The Signals and Noise of Virtue

Matthew J. Luther

Matthew J. Luther

Financial Analyst, Law Otaku, Fruitless Cosmopolitan. Profligate Retweeter.

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504 Responses

  1. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    a lengthy and impassioned defense of motte-and-bailey reasoning.

    “The most powerful means of signaling virtue is behaving virtuously and you cannot wholly condemn the signal without condemning what it signifies.”

    so when Mitt Romney said that he’d make it a priority to hire women to work for his administration and that he actually had a lot of candidates in mind and everyone gigglesnorted about “binders full of women”, that was actually a bad thing?Report

    • Matthew J. Luther Matthew J. Luther in reply to DensityDuck says:

      It’s not clear to me which position is to be motte, and which the bailey in your criticism here. Also, which are you asking me to evaluate in the Romney scenario, Romney for saying “binders of women” or those who mocked him for it?Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Matthew J. Luther says:

        Everyone seemed to agree that Romney was a doof and that there was a moral imperative to dunk on him.

        And yet I also expect everyone to sagely stroke their chins and nod agreement with this essay’s contention that accusing people of virtue signaling can normalize attacks on the concept of virtue.

        And, on the gripping hand, I’m sure there will be explanations for why it was okay to crap on Romney back then and how it totally does not do the thing this essay is concerned about because Romney is a doof, lol, “binders full of women”, “Russia is a problem”, what a maroon right?Report

        • Avatar CJColucci in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Romney got what he deserved, and it had nothing to do with virtue signalling. He had his “binders full of women,” and needed them, because he could not credibly claim identifiable, high-powered female supporters who might fill significant spots in his administration. And why do people think his banal comment about Russia made him Thucydides? What he said wasn’t wrong, it was vacuous. Nobody needed to be reminded that there was only one country on earth that would have to think for more than 5 minutes before deciding that war or other high-intensity conflict with the United States was a very, very bad idea.
          Sometimes a doof is just a doof. And nobody has a right to a pass on it when he puts himself out as a potential Leader of the Free World.Report

        • Matthew J. Luther Matthew J. Luther in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Well, I voted for Mitt Romney and I thought the pile on about the binders comment was silly, so, I guess I would say it’s kind of an exemplar of what I’m talking about.

          Democrats were essentially saying Romney was being insincere and now to the Alt-Right, he is the Ur-Cuck and a cautionary tale supposedly illustrating that outreach to women and minorities is a game not worth the candle. In this you have an example of a sincere callout of virtue signaling (i.e. Democrats, I credit, really believe that Romney was only pretending to care about hiring women) followed by an insincere callout of virtue signaling (i.e., the Alt-Right would condemn Romney and his binders as virtue signaling cuckery, but really because they want to normalize misogyny, not because they genuinely care whether he meant what he said), both acting to undermine the norm with the effect that his example can now be used as an argument for why the GOP shouldn’t bother with hiring women. Notice that it’s immaterial to this scenario whether Romney actually was sincere.Report

          • Avatar Patrick in reply to Matthew J. Luther says:

            ” illustrating that outreach to women and minorities is a game not worth the candle. ”

            Fundamentally, this is the distinction that underpins the question of virtue signaling and the broader social justice context.

            If you presume that it is authentic (even if occasionally or substantively misdirected) that is an entirely different framework to thinking it is a game where points are scored.

            This is something people are pretty capable of judging in lots of areas without the layer of political tribe context.

            But yeah, when you look like you are trying to score points to someone who doesn’t think they are playing a game, it’s really hard not to dunk on themReport

            • Avatar veronica d in reply to Patrick says:

              +100

              “We pretended we care about you and you didn’t give me cookies! Now I won’t even pretend to care!”

              They were pretending, and we could tell.Report

              • Matthew J. Luther Matthew J. Luther in reply to veronica d says:

                I understand it is difficult to credit sincerity from politicians in general, and particularly when they are from the other side, but I would submit that for the health of the national dialogue on a given issue, the sincerity of a person’s compliance with a norm is not always as important as the compliance itself. Thus, if we assume, for the sake of argument, that your darkest suspicions of your opponent’s motivation are correct, I’m not certain it much advances the cause of (here feminism, but any issue really works the same way) to exchange a situation where the Mitt Romneys of the world hire women because it is culturally de rigueur and they must do it whether they want to or not, for one where they no longer feel any public pressure to bother. I personally would like to see even politicians I disagree with about norms feel social pressure to comply with the norms I support.

                What I’m saying here is that Mitt Romney’s sincerity matters more for the health of his soul than it matters for the health of the country. The problem with the tribalism of the current moment is that it promises a coming “total victory” when the bad tribe will never be heard from again. If that were a realistic expectation, then it might matter more whether Mitt Romney were sincere about the desire to hire qualified women, but given that he didn’t just turn into a pumpkin after 2012, that he went on to become a United States Senator in an election year when Democrats were otherwise very successful, it actually matters more whether he DOES hire women, whether he does because he wants to or because he’s caving to social pressure. As Americans and as partisans we need to realize that our opponents aren’t just going to disappear if our side wins. Making real progress on any issue you care about will require winning some “insincere converts.”

                For instance, on racism, I’d like to go back to a place where racists keep their racism private and crawl back under the rocks they came from.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Matthew J. Luther says:

                This, x1000!

                I don’t care why most people don’t go on killing rampages. Maybe it’s a sincere respect for life, maybe it’s a fear of mortal punishment, maybe it’s a fear of immortal punishment, maybe it’s just that they feel ill at the sight of blood. I don’t care.

                I care that they don’t go on killing rampages.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

                You can only pretend to be something so long before it gets to be a habit, and at that point you aren’t pretending anymore.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to DensityDuck says:

                @densityduck

                I was listening to a podcast the other day with Mark Lilla and one of the points he made is that due to the Left’s obsession with identity, it seems natural that eventual whites/males would start to think of themselves as an identity. It’s kind of funny when you think about that too. The Left fully endorses the hyper-focus on one’s identity except in two cases: Whiteness or maleness are the two identities that are verboten to claim. When those groups decide to claim those identities anyways, the Left gets apoplectic about the results.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                We don’t have an issue with whitness or maleness. We DO have an issue when those traits are used to oppress others. White Males are no better or worse then black males or Latina women or any one of any color on the LGBTQ spectrum. Yet White Males using their white maleness to claim they are better or more deserving of political or economic power has been a thing for decades, particularly in the south. And that’s what has to stop.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Philip H says:

                “We DO have an issue when those traits are used to oppress others.”

                Even if I wanted to, I’m having trouble figuring out how I would use my whiteness to oppress someone else. I guess I could use my ‘maleness’ to physically intimidate someone, but that’s more because I’m a loud, 6ft, 230 pound dude…I know some other guys that aren’t capable of intimidating anyone…so I don’t know if even that is a universal ability of males.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Mike,

                You’ll never understand it. It’s all about the standpoint epistemology and epistemic authority. That you’re even complaining about it means you’re showing your privilege and white fragility.

                By the way, disagreement is simply increased evidence of your guilt. Just let the virtuous shame you into submission.

                I have intersections on the oppression matrix so I’m exempt – short, old, biceptualReport

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                @Mike Dwyer,

                “Eventually”? The idea that it’s a new thing for white men to regard being white men as an identity is bananas wrong. No matter who you think of claims of the contemporary salience of white supremacy (and the disenfranchisement of women as well) there were literal centuries of US history where it was both the de jure and de facto reality in this country, enforced by both the power of the state and by private action, up to and including violence.

                I’m pretty sure 80% of anti-SJ stuff is attempts to explain constants with variables at this point.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                @pillsy

                I’m thinking much more recently. The narrative from the Left has always been that Trump’s election was an expression of white fears. If white identity has been constant, how do you explain two terms for Obama? How do you explain the recent increase in white nationalist groups?Report

              • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                No identity has been constant. The idea that identity based on being white and/or male didn’t exist because it hasn’t been 100% static is ridiculous.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to pillsy says:

                ” No matter who you think of claims of the contemporary salience of white supremacy (and the disenfranchisement of women as well) there were literal centuries of US history where it was both the de jure and de facto reality in this country, enforced by both the power of the state and by private action, up to and including violence.”

                Yes, and thank goodness we had pomo-influenced anti-racism and intersectionalism to turn the corner on those horrors. The liberals of the civil rights, second wave feminist and gay rights movements couldn’t have done it without them.

                “I’m pretty sure 80% of anti-SJ stuff is attempts to explain constants with variables at this point.”

                Doesn’t sound like you’re confident. If I were you, I’d worry about the 20% category. Most of them are fed up liberals. I oughta know.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Dave says:

                Yes, and thank goodness we had pomo-influenced anti-racism and intersectionalism to turn the corner on those horrors.

                …OK?

                Doesn’t sound like you’re confident.

                I’m confident that there are more cogent arguments than Mike’s out there, if that’s what you’re asking.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to pillsy says:

                Would I get the same “ok?” if I mentioned critical constructivist epistemology, critical pedagogy, critical race theory, postmodern feminism, and Foucault’s theories on power, knowledge, truth and discourse?

                Would that also include certain general ideas coming out of postmodernism and poststructuralism?

                Please understand that I’m asking this question with the utmost sincerity, and if I’m confusing you, I’ll do more than a hit and run with my comment and fully flesh out some thoughts like I did below on what I think is happening on the right.

                “I’m confident that there are more cogent arguments than Mike’s out there, if that’s what you’re asking.”

                I was probably being a bit short and I apologize for that.

                You are very right in your confidence.

                Put me in coach!!!!

                I forget that I’ve only really spoken with Maribou about this at length and that’s on my FB page not here.

                Coincidentally, I leave for Hilton Head in the AM. I guess I’ll have to check later in the night.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to pillsy says:

                pillsy: there were literal centuries of US history where it was both the de jure and de facto reality in this country

                Pulling in what someone else’s grandparents did to justify what you want to do is a bad idea and seems like an attempt to justify what shouldn’t be.

                I’m pretty sure 80% of anti-SJ stuff is attempts to explain constants with variables at this point.

                That’s the criticism I’d level at the SJ left. They want to change constants, how to do that is somewhat unclear.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Dark Matter says:

                It’s not just grandparents though!

                People who experienced Jim Crow are very much still alive. So are people who advocated it and perpetuated it.

                Heck, one of them, Pat Buchanan, who was finally more-or-less drummed our of the conservative movement for being comprehensively awful during the W years, has recently been brought back into the fold.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                @pillsy

                Are you suggesting that historic racism (which BTW transcended party affiliation) somehow justifies bad behavior by the SJ Left? Or because that was SO BAD we can give them a pass by comparison?Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Why do we have to make this about the Left’s behavior? You’re looking at the trees and not the forest. I use labels like the SJ-Left or Identitarian Left to describe a general set of ideas and principles that arose as critiques of certain aspects of liberalism.

                Hell, it’s possible that every commenter here that leans liberal, even those that talk about whiteness as oppressive think they’re genuinely doing this from a liberal disposition, and who am I to tell them they’re not? It’s pretty for people with a liberal position to oppose racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.

                Truth be told, my quarrel isn’t with liberals fighting for social justice causes, and my own hostility towards the ideological SJ Left may have inadvertantly thrown a few people under the bus . So I need to be more careful and correct that mistake.

                My hostility is mostly with the key ideas that drive it. I don’t want to call it an ideology per se because it’s not, I guess because of the postmodernist skeptcism towards grand narratives ( I don’t know, I tried reading Lyotard and my head spun).

                We need to separate the people away from the ideas, at least temporarily. The ideas matter because they’re politically neutral in that they can be adopted by either political side and in a way they are.

                I’m making my way through the comments so if you clarified anything below and I didn’t see it, I apologize.

                My concern is two-fold:

                1. You’re criticizing the left for characteristics (and to some degree behaviors) that the Right is openly embracing now.

                To me, you’re more center right. I have no quarrel with that obviously.

                2. My read on your interactions and criticisms of the Left is that if they behave differently, there may be enough reconciliation or compromise to where things could possibly reverse.

                In theory, it’s not a bad idea but the way I see things, I worry about you asking people to try to work towards consensus or compromise without fully understanding all the forces in play, forces that would look to fuck me over in a heartbeat let alone more politically vulnerable and marginalized groups.

                You’re free to stick to your guns. I’m not going to tell anyone what to do or think, but we need to take things up a level and really get serious. I’m singling you out simply since I know your positions on this (and I hit your post), but I would suggest the same for anyone.

                Good lord, it’s 2:30 am. Why the hell am I here? lolReport

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Dave says:

                @dave

                I tend to separate my criticisms of the Left into two buckets:

                1) Online/academic – Places like this chatboard but also academic circles that I dabble in, have completely drank the Identity / SJ kool-aid IMO and it deeply concerns me. I say this as someone whose opinions and beliefs were absolutely changed by my interactions in those circles just 10 years ago but now I see no room for debate or disagreement. As someone who plans to get back to academics when I start the next chapter of my career, that deeply troubles me, which is why I push back so hard here and elsewhere.

                2) Real world – This stuff affects me a lot less in every day life, but it does trickle down. #metoo has significantly changed my workplace for the worse, not because we can’t go around harassing women like we used to but because the men I work with are scared to interact with female coworkers beyond the most generic necessities. I’m also seeing my very rationale and reasonable friends starting to get angry about what they perceive as attacks on them that are unfair and unjustified. Essentially they are being low-level radicalized and I worry about how this will affect their voting habits and policy preferences down the road. It’s not just about Trump. It’s about our horrible governor, our senators, our mayor, our school board, etc. I don;t want to see my moderate friends swing waaay Right just to balance the regressive SJ Left.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I responded to pillsy tonight…I’ll circle up ASAP.

                I don’t know what it is about being on vacation that keeps me away from the internet!Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to pillsy says:

                pillsy: It’s not just grandparents though! People who experienced Jim Crow are very much still alive. So are people who advocated it and perpetuated it.

                It was 54 years ago. Pat is 80 years old, in a decade he’ll be dead.

                The policy solutions we propose or have enacted are for the grandchildren of Jim Crow. Median age in the US is 37, not only was he not born in 1965 but it’s a coin flip whether his parents were born then.

                This isn’t “centuries” ago, but we’re LONG past the point of immediate emergency measures in its aftermath.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Dark Matter says:

                About 10, 15 years ago I would have totally agreed with you.

                But now? Not so much. Sure Pat is 80, but Trump is 72 and the two Dem front-runners are even older.

                Sometimes I think the biggest problem we have is that we live in a gerontocracy.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to pillsy says:

                The bulk of 80 year olds are long retired.

                My boss, and his boss, and his boss, are all early 40’s. That’s way more normal for management.

                We are two generations past Jim Crow. In terms of painting the overall situation, other factors now dominate. Things like the war on drugs and marriage rates (and a bunch of other cultural things).

                This means Affirmative action (etc) really should be justified by “now” rather than “then”.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Umm. I think you think I’m making a completely different argument than the one I’m making.

                Mike was making an argument about the relevance of the “white male” identity, and arguing that it’s become more relevant.

                I was challenging that by saying that it’s always been relevant, and if anything was much more relevant in the past when it was privileged by the actual law of the land.

                But one of the ways it retains its importance is that people who actually upheld that old, bad status quo remain relevant and powerful and able to pass on their ideas to a new generation of activists.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                @pillsy

                I’m not suggesting that the white male identity is becoming more relevant, I’m saying that if the Left wants to obsess over identity it’s only natural that the people who get left behind in that project will start to form an identity of their own. The only thing you are really leaving them with is straight, white, male.

                The Left came up with this fiction that white males were this homogenous group that were so concerned about their loss of power that they elected Trump. Now it seems the SJ project is actually making that fiction true.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I’m not suggesting that the white male identity is becoming more relevant, I’m saying that if the Left wants to obsess over identity it’s only natural that the people who get left behind in that project will start to form an identity of their own.

                It’s the “start to form” which is the problem. It’s nonsense. It’s always been there.

                The Left came up with this fiction that white males were this homogenous group that were so concerned about their loss of power that they elected Trump.

                Hey Mike, remember which of the political tribes is the whitest?

                Your description of the Left doesn’t even align with your own favorite data point about the Left.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                Yeah, I already saw your attempt to link what we are seeing today to Jim Crow and Pat Buchanan. Obviously that serves your goal here of removing any responsibility for this from the Left because you can just say this is a continuation of some broad white supremacy movement that goes back decades in the U.S. I strongly disagree.

                The people that I am seeing drifting towards a white identity are the moderates/centrists that never really gave much thought to this stuff. They’re GenXers that are okay with SSM, interracial marriage, full equality, etc. Most of them could be fairly defined as apolitical. Suddenly I am hearing them question aloud if they should be finding common cause with other whites simply because of their race.

                I imagine you will strongly disagree with me on this point but I think the SJ Left has actually harmed decades of progress on issues of equality because they have so much difficulty accepting that progress has actually occurred.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                the SJ Left… have so much difficulty accepting that progress has actually occurred.

                Movements like this NEED heretics and enemies, ideally safe ones. If the dragon is dead then no one needs the dragon slayer. Few priests/leaders/organizers retire if the mission is complete, instead it’s much easier to move the goal posts so the mission isn’t done.

                If you’re out of legit enemies because you’ve won, then you need scapegoats.

                The same type of issue on the Right lends itself to 1% minorities being presented as scary, that’s common enough to be a problem without simply not existing.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                @Mike,

                I imagine you will strongly disagree with me on this point but I think the SJ Left has actually harmed decades of progress on issues of equality because they have so much difficulty accepting that progress has actually occurred.

                Trump. Is. President.

                The Right doesn’t just get to walk away from that one, absolve itself of responsibility, and pretend the Left is delusional for thinking the Right is full of racists when they up and nominated perhaps the single most famous promoter of racist conspiracy theories about Obama to be President.

                You want to know why the SJ Left thinks the country is absolutely fucking racist?

                It’s because the country made an absolute fucking racist President.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to pillsy says:

                And as for continuity with Pat Buchanan and thus Jim Crow, here it is.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                “You want to know why the SJ Left thinks the country is absolutely fucking racist?

                It’s because the country made an absolute fucking racist President.”

                Let’s just spin that out a bit…

                Firstly, the SJ Left is also one of the most well-educated and politically astute parts of the electorate, even if many of them are batshit crazy. They can read polling data. They know what % of the electorate voted for Trump and if they really want to do their homework, they can even start to suss out why.

                Secondly, those white suburban dads that I keep referencing, the same guys I have beers with once per month and do other white guy things like camping and bowling…none of them voted for Trump. To the contrary, they were all appalled when one of the guys in our group actually admitted to doing so. And yet they are starting to say they are tired of this nonsense. One of them is literally the most chill person I know. He’s an engineer and with a couple of bourbons in him he went on a tirade recently about how he is tired of being told that women can’t make it in STEM because he tried to hire women all of the time and they just aren’t interested in inspecting bridges (his line of work).

                So my point is, the shenanigans of the SJ Left are absolutely trickling down to people who did not vote for Trump and it’s pissing them off. Will they vote for Trump in 2020 out of spite? I doubt it. But they might vote for for an Independent or just stay home. And the Dems will run some intersectional candidate like Kamala Harris or Cory Booker and when Trump wins re-election they will double-down on charges of mainstream racism. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I know you think you are making these guys sound sympathetic, but the more you describe them, the worse they sound.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I’m not trying to make them sound sympathetic. These guys are all top-notch, successful, very good people that i would trust my life with. But everyone has their breaking point. Look at you Chip. You used to mostly be rationale now you can’t get through three comments without referencing Trump. it appears you were broken too.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Everything is about their feelings, their wounded pride, their hypersensitivity to criticism.

                Meanwhile, an eleven year old girl has been ripped from her family and will be deported alone. The president has promised to immunize government officials who commit crimes in his name.

                But yeah, lets talk some more about how some intersectional candidate forced these guys to vote for more of this, about how their feelings just can’t suffer any more abuse.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Do you honestly believe people get in the voting booth thinking about other people? Even among the SJ Left there are lots of competing interests and guess what? Most of them aren’t helping each other. That’s the problem with this narcissistic focus on identity. There’s no sense of solidarity. You have the luxury of seeing Trump as some existential threat but most of your fellow travelers who you hope will vote against him next year all have their own agendas.

                Everyone votes their own self-interests. If you think otherwise you just aren’t paying attention.

                I will also add, when I keep telling you that SJ antics are pissing off moderate non-Trump voters, to your peril, and you keep telling me they are whiny babies that need to suck it up…that sounds a lot like the person who excuses being an asshole by saying that are just keeping it real.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                If someone can shrug their shoulders at traumatized children yet weep for middle class white males whose pride is wounded by college students saying rude things on Twitter…then yeah, they are being whiny babies who need to suck it up.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I think a lot of blacks shrug their shoulders when trans people are treated poorly. I think a lot of Latinos shrug their shoulders when Asians don’t get into Harvard. I think a lot of gays shrug their shoulders when feminists are mad about something. And I think a lot of Native Americans would like to see all of them climb on a boat and leave.

                That’s the thing about special interest groups. They are mostly only interested in the needs of their group.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Weirdly, these self interested blacks, trans folk, asians, Latinos, feminists and Native Americans somehow manage to come together and all vote for the same party.

                I mean, where are you seeing this IGMFU attitude on the left?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                @Chip,

                Weirdly, these self interested blacks, trans folk, asians, Latinos, feminists and Native Americans somehow manage to come together and all vote for the same party.

                As do progressive activists, who Mike himself never fails to remind us are disproportionately white.

                Like, I dunno, I’d think maybe that would throw a spanner into his whole theory of the SJ Left alienating white people given how much of the SJ Left is white people.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “Weirdly, these self interested blacks, trans folk, asians, Latinos, feminists and Native Americans somehow manage to come together and all vote for the same party.”

                Yeah, the rest of us have been trying to figure that out for a long time.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                @Mike,

                Look at you Chip. You used to mostly be rationale now you can’t get through three comments without referencing Trump. it appears you were broken too.

                By your standards isn’t that the fault of Trump and his supporters?

                Or does responsibility only ever flow from Left to Right?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Do we expect more moral behavior from moral people than from immoral people?

                Or do we just get irritated when they have different standards for their tribe than they have for ours?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                @Jaybird:

                Do we expect more moral behavior from moral people than from immoral people?

                Is it your contention that Trump supporters are essentially immoral people?

                Because dude, I’m more than willing to roll with that shit if you are.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                From a certain point of view, of course they are. They’re sexist, racist, transphobic, and a handful of other ists.

                Why, they’re so wicked that they see a 20 year old shout about how they’re evil and they respond the way that Ahab and Jezebel did to Elijah.

                What more do you need?

                From where I sit, I can only say that for a good long while after my conversion to atheism, I still expected Christians to be morally different somehow from the unchurched.

                I was much happier when I stopped expecting The Holy Spirit to manifest in Christians.

                So I’m one of those “Actually, I sorta can believe that those infidels treat their own tribal members well and they don’t give the benefit of the doubt to my much more theologically sound tribal members!” kinda people.

                But I remember when I believed that I had a special insight into what was moral and what was immoral and one of the ways it manifested was my getting indignant that people I considered immoral wouldn’t act according to my special insight into what was moral and what was immoral.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                @Jaybird:

                What more do you need?

                Nothing.

                I mean if we believe that people are essentially good and bad and that’s the end of the story and the bad people are just going to be doing terrible shit, well, I’m not sure there’s a huge amount to discuss. But then the contempt directed at essentially bad people is 100% unremarkable and not even worth mentioning.

                If, on the other hand, we don’t believe that, then all of a sudden stuff like, “Oh, they’re just being good to members of their tribe, not mine!” sounds as much like an excuse as it does an explanation. Unless it’s actually morally justified to treat other tribes like garbage, in which case why wouldn’t I treat their tribe like garbage.

                Then again, maybe right and wrong are either meaningless or completely opaque to humans, in which case, again, I sort of wonder why you care enough to ask the question.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                If, on the other hand, we don’t believe that, then all of a sudden stuff like, “Oh, they’re just being good to members of their tribe, not mine!” sounds as much like an excuse as it does an explanation.

                It’s only an excuse if both sides don’t do it. (I assume that there are only two sides.)

                Unless it’s actually morally justified to treat other tribes like garbage, in which case why wouldn’t I treat their tribe like garbage.

                I see a *HUGE* difference between “treating someone like garbage” and “not treating someone well”.

                Neutrality towards outsiders is… well, you could do a lot worse than neutrality towards outsiders. (See, for example, Western Civ.)

                Treating people poorly is bad. I agree that this should be avoided.

                Then again, maybe right and wrong are either meaningless or completely opaque to humans, in which case, again, I sort of wonder why you care enough to ask the question.

                Because situational reciprocity is one heck of a thing to achieve, if you can achieve it to the benefit of your tribe.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                @Jaybird,

                If they were just treating their out-group neutrally that would be fine. They ignore us, we ignore them, everybody goes about their business and pleasure without difficulty.

                They are not, in fact, just treating their out-group neutrally.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                Sure. Blame it on Trump and his supporters. They broke poor Chip. So are we now in agreement that someone can lose their shit based on the actions of a political group and it might affect their voting habits?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                It’s not just Chip, though. It’s more or less the entirety of the SJ Left.

                You want to hold the Left responsible for your buddies getting bent out of shape, but you are completely dismissive of the effect the Right had on the SJ Left.

                Pick one, Mike.

                Either the Right, through its support of Trump [1] is responsible for the SJ Left acting in a way that alienates your buddies, or your buddies are, in fact, responsible for their own reactions and trying to fob it off on the SJ Left is silly.

                [1] And a ton of other bigoted garbage.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                Oh geez. You think the SJ Left’s bad behavior is because of Trump? Dig a bit deeper. This started in 1962. It’s a multi-decade project. Identity politics helped push me to the right in 1998.

                And even if it had started under Trump, I think you are missing my point because you are only think Left/Right. What I am suggesting is that the SJ Left is pissing off the middle. So even if the Far Right and Trump only made the SJL crazy in the last couple of years, why are they being so mean to the Centrists and moderate Democratic voters who have the misfortune of also being white and male?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                What I am suggesting is that the SJ Left is pissing off the middle.

                So what? You’ve made it abundantly clear that you believe that this is a problem for the middle to deal with by moderating its reaction, not for the SJ Left to deal with by being more careful.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                What?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Why shouldn’t the middle just brush off the excesses of the SJ Left the way you expect the SJ Left to brush off the excesses of the Right?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                The SJ Left is an extremely political group. The middle are mostly apolitical, normal people. I have been participating in this site (and others like it) for close to 20 years. I’m used to being called misogynistic/racist/terrible on a regular basis. My friends who thought they were actually pretty tolerant dudes that supported equality…not so much. So they react the way you would expect people to when they aren’t used to being attacked.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                The SJ Left, especially as you’ve constructed it, is largely made up of young adults, people under 30 (and probably under 25).

                They aren’t used to anything.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to pillsy says:

                Also one thing they do have in common with hashtag-Resistance types?

                A lot of them were largely apolitical before Trump, and quite a few more, the more experienced and older ones, were radicalized by the alt-right in the pre-Trump ’10s during G*merG*te and its sequelae.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                @pillsy
                I’m not sure what the age of the SJ Left has to do with anything, other than providing fodder for observations about immaturity being a core part of the movement. Regardless, they ARE politically engaged, whereas most of the people they are attacking aren’t.

                “…during G*merG*te and its sequelae”

                No idea what that means.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                What it has to do with anything is if you want to use inexperience with political conflict as an excuse for your buddies, it also applies at least as well with to the modal member of the SJ Left.

                I’m used to starring out the ‘a’s in “GamerGate” because sometimes annoying people on Twitter grep for that string.

                But since this isn’t Twitter, that’s a silly thing to do.

                But anyway the way the alt-right participated in GamerGate and similar online culture war skirmishes did a lot to leave a ton of people very, well, anxious.

                You yourself seem to believe that the threat of doxxing, contacting employers, and the like can be very frightening and possibly even traumatic.

                And, well, you aren’t wrong about that.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to pillsy says:

                The Right doesn’t just get to walk away from that one, absolve itself of responsibility, and pretend the Left is delusional for thinking the Right is full of racists when they up and nominated perhaps the single most famous promoter of racist conspiracy theories about Obama to be President.

                Hold my beer.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Koz says:

                Yes Koz I know you’re completely cool with white nationalism.

                No need to rub it in.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to pillsy says:

                Yes Koz I know you’re completely cool with white nationalism. No need to rub it in.

                I think I’m supposed to be offended here, but I’m guessing you forgot a link.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Koz says:

                So I did.

                And no, I don’t expect you to be offended.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to pillsy says:

                So I did.

                Peter Brimelow may be a white nationalist, but _Alien Nation_ is not a work of white nationalism.Report

              • Matthew J. Luther Matthew J. Luther in reply to pillsy says:

                “It’s not just grandparents though!

                People who experienced Jim Crow are very much still alive. So are people who advocated it and perpetuated it.”

                I think you have hit upon one of the more pernicious memes among the things Conservatives have told themselves for years vis-a-vis race: this idea that nobody living was ever hurt by the ancien regime on racial matters and that we can easily start over with a clean slate.

                That idea does a lot of work in under-girding attitudes on the American Right about everything from public assistance to diagnosing dysfunction in the Black community, but it’s total BS. Not only are there still Black Americans living who remember Jim Crow, who remember having to navigate the country with the Green Book if they ever traveled, generations can be longer than people might think. Ruth Odom Bonner, who died in 2017, was the daughter of a man who was born a slave in the 19th Century. The past is past, but it’s not so far gone it isn’t still extremely relevant, both as an emotional and an economic matter.

                The Conservative Movement has needed to grapple with the lasting damage of our shared history for far too long and instead, because of Trump, it’s gone the other direction and doubled down on the “ancient history, get over it” narrative. To think that R’s had almost all of this brought up in the post-2012 “autopsy” and did this despite that, is one of the more frustrating features of the Trump era…Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Matthew J. Luther says:

                @matthew

                I worked at former slave sites for years. I wrote one of my senior papers on the history of ant-lynching campaigns. I studied the sociology work done in Chicago in the 1930s and 1940s by Upton Sinclair. I studied the Civil Rights Movement as well as broader African American history in Kentucky under the chair of our department who literally wrote the book on the subject. I’m comfortable saying that I know more about black history in the U.S. than most people of either color. So I accept your premise that there are historic wrongs that still impact blacks today.

                What do you want us to do about them?Report

          • Avatar Maribou in reply to Matthew J. Luther says:

            This is a good response. Thanks for participating in the discussion as well as writing the OP.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to DensityDuck says:

      There is no more egregious example of virtue signaling than “We offered you Romney!” to excuse support for Trump, Miller, and the rest of the worst people in the world.Report

  2. Avatar pillsy says:

    This is a great post, and a great way to start writing here. People have written quite a bit about the concept of “virtue signaling”, here and elsewhere, but this is the first time I’ve seen it linked to classic conservative ideas about community and voluntary associations. I’m a life-long liberal, but I’ve always felt that one of the most valuable impulses of conservatism is its protectiveness of those “subdivisions”, but that’s an impulse that seems to have become greatly diminished on the contemporary American Right.

    As an aside, one thing that bugs me about the term “virtue signal” is simply the fact that it’s not a signal at all, at least when the term is used, as it commonly is, to refer to something costless, as a synonym for “slacktivism” or “cheap grace”. Signals, like the ones from the animal world you cite, have to be (or at least appear) costly to be signals.Report

    • Matthew J. Luther Matthew J. Luther in reply to pillsy says:

      Thank you for the kind words. From what I can gather, though I may have gotten the wrong impression, biology comprehends both “costly” and “cost-less” signaling. Examples of the former include, as I understand it, human phenomena like “conspicuous consumption” and–to return to one of the animal examples I listed in the article–the Peacock’s tail. It’s heavy, ungainly, makes them slower, but its signaling value pays for that cost in sex-selection and the possibility of intimidating/confusing predators.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to pillsy says:

      In the broad school of liberalism, meaning ranging from libertarians to modern progressives, there has been a long debate on whether these subdivisions enabled liberty or hampered liberty. The liberal defenders of subdivisions argued that they protect individual and communities people from a vast and assimilating centralized state. The opponents argue that they harm individuals born into a subdivision that hurts them like an LGBT version born into a really religious and anti-LGBT subdivision.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Yeah and FWIW I generally lump conservatives into the broad school of liberalism as well.[1] Anyway, my general sense is that people do need the freedom to create their own communities; it’s the rare human who can really flourish in isolation. But like any freedom worth a damn, some people are going to use it in ways that suck, and this means sometimes you’re left with situations where you need to override people’s choices in that respect.[2]

        [1] You can find anti-liberal impulses among conservatives, but that doesn’t set them apart from progressives or even libertarians.

        [2] In the US, the most familiar examples involve racial discrimination, but there are definitely others.Report

        • Avatar veronica d in reply to pillsy says:

          If the conservatives were actually consistent and honest in their valuing communities, I would expect them to strongly support the LGBT communities. Of course, they do not.

          #####

          Lou Keep writes a lot about this topic on his blog. It’s too much to summarize, but boiled down: these “small communities” are already dead. They’ve been dead for a long time. The cultural and economic foundations they rested upon are long destroyed. It’s all smoke and ashes. What remains is a fetishization. People look back on what they imagine the communities were, but they miss the quiet ways they functioned, and only see the bombast. So we get suburban megachurches preaching hatred of gays, but very little in the way of real community.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to veronica d says:

            There are other countervailing impulses that often overwhelm that one, and I definitely agree that at this point a lot of it is fetishization, or nostalgia for a past that never quite was, or something along those lines.

            I also think people, even people who are generally progressive, give the conservative movement way too much of a pass on the way they handled the question of rights for LGBT people. It’s just assumed that their strategy of massive resistance from the ’80s to the late ’00s was a given, but it was a choice, and a very cynical one at that.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

            “People look back on what they imagine the communities were, but they miss the quiet ways they functioned, and only see the bombast. ”

            Yeah, maybe it was a bad idea to repeatedly yell about the hypocrisy and the problematic nature of those communities, because it led to the association of those communities with bad actors and drove away all the moderates who were interested in keeping those communities stable and making them a positive force in society.

            Sort of like how accusing people of virtue signaling ends up normalizing the idea of denigrating virtue, huh?Report

            • Avatar veronica d in reply to DensityDuck says:

              If your community is homophobic and racist, it’s pretty disingenuous to complain that people call you out for it. Furthermore, do you really believe that The Daily Show was what gutted rural America, or for that matter the industrial base. Myself, I suspect the main causes are economic. So blame capitalism before you blame gay rights.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

                There’s only so many times that you can scream in someone’s face that they’re an irredeemable shit who doesn’t deserve happiness and are lost to evil forever before they start to believe you.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Or, more likely, they stop listening to the screams and shrug it off, or they simply don’t believe that this applies to them and shrug it off.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Does that not cut both ways?

                Not only have people screamed into my face, they have spit in my face — literally, totally unprovoked. I’ve been called literally a demon. This isn’t a metaphor. This one girl I know had her teeth kicked out. This is a fairly common thing.

                But somehow conservatives are the victims, because we tell the truth about you.

                Words have power. True words are true.

                I’m not a demon. Bigots, however, are pretty darn close to demonic.Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Maybe this wouldn’t be the dynamic if the folks being screamed at listened to all of the quieter, politer attempts to get them to change their minds over decades.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Patrick says:

                Memory can be short and selective.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to CJColucci says:

                What were we talking about?Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to pillsy says:

          One of the things about libertarianism is that they really develop strong passions/obsessions with the whole ideas of “spontaneous order” and “voluntary exchange.” At times, these seem like overriding manias for them. I think found families are great to an extent but they are not the balm of all problems and sometimes you need an a larger force to deal with social problems.

          But libertarians are loathe to admit this. My view is that private and public forces are needed to counterbalance the worst instincts of each other but getting libertarians to admit that private forces need counterbalance and have their own problems is like performing root canal on an awake lion.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I fully support the virtue signaling of virtues that I recognize as virtues but I oppose the signaling of so-called “virtues” that aren’t really virtues. When people brag about being vicious and pretend that they’re being virtuous, they *OUGHT* to be called out. We have a responsibility to do so.

    Anyone who disagrees is probably not really Christian but one of the heretical sects (Episcopalian, maybe) or, worse, an atheist.Report

    • Matthew James Luther Matthew James Luther in reply to Jaybird says:

      As I said in the article, I think we have a greater chance of successfully moving the needle on which things should be considered virtues and which not when we forthrightly address our arguments to those questions, rather than just attack the idea of signaling virtue more broadly. Doing the latter undermines the entire social mechanism that promotes virtues in general, not just those virtues we might differ on.Report

      • Pointing out that someone is a hypocrite is one hell of a way of criticizing virtue signaling and it doesn’t touch any virtue at all.

        You don’t know if the hypocrite is being a hypocrite about a real virtue or a fake one.

        (Well, I suppose, “authenticity” is being upheld as a real virtue when hypocrisy is being called out… which, in itself, makes “vice signaling” sort of appealing… say what you will about vice signalers, you know they probably mean it!)

        With that in mind, I kinda see virtue signaling as something done for its own sake.

        Like, when you engage in a virtue, you’re going to signal that virtue as an epiphenomenon of virtue acting.

        But when you engage in virtue signaling, the signal is no longer an epiphenomenon. It *IS* the phenomenon.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Matthew James Luther says:

        I definitely agree with this. I think arguments over things like “virtue signaling” often function as ways to avoid discussing what is, and should be a virtue.[1] My working theory as to why people end up focused on these sort of meta-questions is because addressing the object level question of what we ought to regard as virtuous is likely to be internally divisive within a movement.

        If, for instance, you need to appeal to both xenophobic bigots and non-xenophic bigots to have a viable political coalition, you can’t forthrightly condemn xenophobia, but at the same time, you can’t decide to argue that xenophobia is Good, Actually.

        Steering the conversation towards assertions that the people getting up and loudly condemning xenophobia are a bunch of phonies who just want to look cool is a great way to shortcut a more awkward line of discussion.

        [1] Damon Linker, who I’m generally not so crazy about, wrote a good article about a similar dynamic in discussions around “free speech”.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

          @pillsy

          I think my primary critique would be that we should avoid ‘virtues’ altogether. Putting things in terms of morals is the big problem with the SJ Left that many of us are complaining about these days. Virtue is too often the domain of religions (secular and non-secular). I think the OP fails in this sense by implying we should tolerate virtue in politics.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            I think any attempt to remove discussion of morals from politics, much less the wider world of public discourse, is doomed to failure. You really can’t make any sort of non-trivial decisions that involve large numbers of people without considering what those people want, and you can’t understand what they want without at least some understanding of what they believe is right or wrong.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

              I think it’s the difference between morals and values. Take this site for example. The site has values related to how people treat one another, etc. Those aren’t morals, or at least I don’t think anyone thinks of them that way.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I think it’s a distinction largely without a difference. You can give a long explanation about why you shouldn’t be a jerk to people because of some appeal to enlightened self-interest or the like [1], or you could say that you shouldn’t be a jerk to people because being a jerk to people is wrong.

                And then someone might disagree because they think you should be a jerk to people if the people do things that make them deserving of your jerkiness.

                And again we could argue about which is true and why, but I think we’ll be unlikely to avoid the question of morals.

                [1] Which often just seems to smuggle in something like utilitarianism anyway.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Maybe it’s just that I’m older than most of the folks here, but I have over a half-century of memories — some deeply personal — of folks disparaging the morals of anyone who dissented from what passed for political correctness in the Mad Men, Rat Pack, and later eras. And in case no one has noticed, it’s still going on today.Report

          • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            ” I think the OP fails in this sense by implying we should tolerate virtue in politics.”

            ::rolls eyes::

            Clearly what we need in politics a complete lack of virtue – even more immorality and depravity than we have now!

            Vote Cthulu! Why Choose the Lesser Evil?Report

          • Avatar Philip H in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            @Mike Dwyer,

            Not that it shocks you, but I disagree. Over the years I have been pilloried repeatedly by atheists for my stance that as a practicing Christian I am called by my value system to seek social justice. They point out – rightly IMHO – that certain foundational values are moral and ethical regardless of association with religion, and that indeed many religious sects act in ways that are contra to their claimed values.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Philip H says:

              @phillip

              I’m not sure I follow this logic. I’m saying that someone should be able to take a principled position without it being moral/virtuous. You’re saying no?Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I’m saying 1) principled positions are generally moral/ethical/virtuous; 2) principled positions and moral/ethical/virtuous positions are NOT the exclusive position of religious persons; 3) religious persons holding and espousing liberal moral/virtuous/ethical positions are often pilloried for being liberal as if you can’t have a moral/ethical/virtuous position and be liberal.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Philip H says:

                @phillip

                But when the SJL is criticized for ‘virtue signaling’ we’re talking about a group that is mostly secular and a we’re talking about claiming piety with no actions to support those claims.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                All of the “social Justice Warriors” I know personally are both liberal progressives and deeply committed Christians. So my lived experience doesn’t match your labeling nor your critique.

                That aside, most of the progressives who focus on social justice issues interprets the virtue signal labeling as an attempt to deflect from the issues we feel strongly about. We also believe that engaging in debate online is an action in the suite of actions that works to effect change. For many of us, working on line has replaced letter writing campaigns. But we aren’t doing it insincerely, and the assumption that we are is, frankly, why any valid critiques associated with the virtue signalling label are roundly ignored.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Philip H says:

                The polling data suggests you are in the minority as a non-secular progressive.

                And you may also be in a minority of SJL that actually hope to change minds with your online work. I can’t imagine too many others actually have that goal in mind, thus the ‘virtue signaling’ charge. And I also think that while it’s enjoyable for some of us, no one should fool themselves that participating in chatboards and posting links to liberal articles on Facebook are somehow making the world a better place. That’s why I have my board memberships, spend my dollars on the groups I care about, etc.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                you are making two unfounder assumptions – first that real action is not generally the goal of on-line actors, and 2) that those of use with significant on-line activity don’t also support or work with real life groups.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Philip H says:

                I don’t see too many people actually trying to change minds these days. It’s mostly just telling people how terrible they are.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Matthew James Luther says:

        I hate to say it, but there’s some motte/baileying going on here.

        Motte: Let us identify virtue and call out vice.
        Bailey: Those that call out vice of false virtue are destroying virtue
        Retreat: That’s not what I mean, I want us to argue about the virtues.

        But we are arguing about the virtues… you say that xyz is good, but I’m pointing out that you’ll abandon (or already have abandoned) xyz by doing lmnop. Or, you aren’t really acting virtuous because saying xyz isn’t doing xyz.

        Plus, I kinda question the major premise that the Alt-right is responsible for calling out virtue signalling… the primary attacks on Virtue signalling were the left objecting to the signalling of virtues their fellow travelers would not do the heavy lifting of actually embracing by changing laws/lives. In the end, its just the same old fruitless discussion about hypocrisy.

        My counter-intuitive take for the day is that what is required to be considered virtuous has expanded beyond our capabilities… so we (must) project false virtue to keep up with virtue proliferation and worse, the incompatibility of competing virtues… hence the ease with which signals are exposed.

        But I do like your description of intermediary institutions. I don’t however think you’ve connected them to your argument; intermediary institutions are participating arbiters of virtue and definitionally weeders of virtue signalling. So in the sense that we’ve weakened these institutions, I think you are correct that we’ve weakened the local defenses against false virtue… but that just means that Mass Society has both false virtues and the false practice of virtues as an endemic pathology that we all now participate in mano a mano (virtually, of course).Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

          The theory that “being a tribal member” is sufficiently virtuous has a lot of explanatory power.Report

        • Matthew J. Luther Matthew J. Luther in reply to Marchmaine says:

          I find the motte and bailey criticism interesting in that it’s my sense that attacks on virtue signaling are themselves a form of motte and bailey argument, with the motte being the condemnation of the virtue signaling (i.e., “Stop preening!” or “You’re a hypocrite!”) and the bailey being “that virtue isn’t a virtue, so you shouldn’t signal it.” It’s my impression that those most concerned with “virtue signaling” are never actually policing the sincerity or consistency of their opponents, so much as attempting to stamp out their countervailing values. As I said though, if you’re not on board with a given set of values, saying as much forthrightly is the better way to go.Report

          • those most concerned with “virtue signaling” are never actually policing the sincerity or consistency of their opponents

            So they’re not interested in what they’re publicly professing to be interested in, they’re merely using it as a way to further their own agenda?Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Matthew J. Luther says:

            Perhaps that’s the disconnect, then… you are witnessing the Virtue Signalling call-out as insincere from opponents. My experience is that it has been mostly sincere from advocates.

            It could be both, of course…but if it is, I’d put it in the category of never build a weapon you don’t want your enemies to turn against you.Report

            • Matthew J. Luther Matthew J. Luther in reply to Marchmaine says:

              I acknowledge that a sincere annoyance with virtue signaling is possible, and perhaps this was even the more prevalent connotation when the term first hit the scene, but when I see it used nowadays, as a matter of pragmatics, it’s usually just a way of circling an argument about values that one does not share with one’s interlocutor. Even if I’m incorrect in that characterization, anecdotal as it is, I would still suggest that condemning Virtue Signaling is a bad idea, because I think the consequence ends up being the same: the weakening of the norm being signaled and, more broadly, the power of norms in general.

              In this fashion, I think it relates to the concept of hypocrisy, where we often prize consistency over rectitude, with the result that a given norm, once mutually violated, is simply abandoned altogether. La Rochefoucauld famously called hypocrisy the tribute vice pays to virtue. I think that’s a good metaphor in that the hypocrite is at least implicitly conceding there is value in the norm he’s being inconsistent about, and it does very little good to call out the pot for saying the kettle is black if you’re genuinely concerned about the color of your crockery.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Matthew J. Luther says:

                Thanks, I think I see what you are getting at better now.

                I agree that it is entirely possible to condemn a virtue as a signal because I want to see less of the virtue and not less of the signal. I get what you’re after now.

                I still think you’re in a tough rhetorical pickle though. If we preserve (or forge new) “norms” by allowing and encouraging pure signalling… we can’t be sure that the “norms” will endure any challenge to their normalcy. Which might, ironically, be part of the political malaise we find ourselves in.Report

              • Matthew J. Luther Matthew J. Luther in reply to Marchmaine says:

                I believe this risk is less pronounced than you might think, because what you refer to as pure signaling is related closely enough to what Jay elsewhere in this thread called the “epiphenomenal” variety (i.e., that form of signaling incidental to acts) that they encourage one another. Virtue signals reinforce virtuous acts (“I applaud you sir!”) and the cognitive dissonance of hypocrisy is more likely to be resolved by a change in acts than a change in signaling in an environment where the signaling is more uniformly supportive of better behavior.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Matthew J. Luther says:

                @matthew

                I would direct you here. The theme of the essay is an analysis of the SJ Left as a secular religion. One relevant quote (emphasis mine):

                “Of course, the signaling perspective also explains why so many disciples of Wokeness expend effort writing inscrutable articles about the patriarchy or denouncing sinners on Twitter rather than going out into the world to help the victims’ groups they claim to admire: their primary motivation, whatever their conscious beliefs, is to procure status. There are, of course, many courageous and devoted people who do work quietly to make the world better for minority groups; and those people deserve our admiration. But, many of the most conspicuous activists spend more time promising punishment to heretics on Twitter than they do helping their local communities. These Twitter displays are often called virtue signals, but they are probably better understood as commitment signals, because they don’t really signal a person’s underlying moral character, but they do signal his or her allegiance to the faith of Wokeness.”Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Couldn’t this essay be written (has been written) word for word about religious folk?

                And if we can describe modern progressive values as a secular religion, would that be a good or bad thing?

                I assert that it is a good thing. In the sense that a set of moral values doesn’t need a deity at its center, but can perform all the functions of old religions (for better or worse).Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                @chip

                Yes, it could – that’s sort of the whole point.

                “And if we can describe modern progressive values as a secular religion, would that be a good or bad thing?”

                I assume you have heard of the Spanish Inquisition?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                No, I haven’t.

                What did they do, hang women who got abortions?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                What the SJL is doing right now is no different than nearly every other religious campaign against heretics. Kill a few people and the rest line up to be baptized. Today ‘kill’ has been replaced with ‘using the full power of the internet to destroy their lives’.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                This, “religion” you speak of…it sounds awful.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                The “religion” part isn’t so bad.

                It’s the Volunteer Stasi that suck.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Jesus, save me from your followers!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Now imagine that exact scenario.

                Only without someone to call out to.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                @Mike Dwyer,

                Today ‘kill’ has been replaced with ‘using the full power of the internet to destroy their lives’.

                Hard to see how this isn’t an unambiguous improvement over the status quo of actually killing heretics.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                Isn’t that sort of like saying that locking up blacks for drug posession is an improvement over lynching them?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I… uh, don’t think so?

                That’s actually part of the problem with this formulation (and many similar formulations): they lump together a ton of behaviors that span a wide range of badness.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                @pillsy

                The point is though, the Far Left is becoming increasingly destructive and sort of hand-waving it away as not a big deal. I see all of our SJWs on this site doing it daily. You’re doing it in this thread. It’s unfortunate that the middle is going to have to endure another round of regressive tactics, this time from the Left. All the more reason we need to toss both extremes in the ocean.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                The point is though, the Far Left is becoming increasingly destructive and sort of hand-waving it away as not a big deal.

                Because “increasingly destructive” is poorly supported, and the arguments to the contrary routinely include complaints about things that aren’t a big deal.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                Poorly supported is either you simply not paying attention or you have set a very high bar for behavior that actually bothers you. What is happening on campuses, cozying up to the anti-Israel crowd, the doxxing, de-platforming, mobbing, etc. You don’t find any of that problematic?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                “Poorly supported” is the assertion of a trend with poor evidence for same. There’s a long history of at least two of those things on your list (“cozying up to the anti-Israel crowd” and “de-platforming”) and a lot of them cover a ton of ground from the clearly bad to the not so clearly bad.[1]

                So is some of it problematic? Well, going off of my own knowledge, sure. Is more of it problematic than it was 20 years ago when I was in college?

                Not as far as I can tell.

                [1] I disagree with a lot of what the “anti-Israel crowd” has to say but I’m not sure I think it’s right to dismiss the whole thing as “regressive”.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                I don’t think we have much more to discuss on this topic. I see it as significantly worse than it was just 10 years ago.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I don’t find it problematic, since it is pretty mild stuff, barely above “I fart in your general direction”.

                Has anyone been given the Emmet Till treatment? Have conservative churches been burned down?

                Are cops out there rolling up and gunning down 12 year old kids with MAGA hats?

                Especially in a world where toddlers are ripped from their mothers arms and forced to represent themselves in some sick Dickensian parody of justice, we’re supposed to elevate a guy who got snide comments on Twitter to the status of a Mandela?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                @chip

                Mobs eliminating free speech on college campuses is something you should take seriously, free speech being y’know, in the Bill of Rights. Professors being forced off of campuses for not supporting racial outrage day is something you should take seriously. Antifas attempting to bomb police stations is somethign you should take seriously. People having their careers destroyed for using the wrong word in a conversation is something you should take seriously.Report

              • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Mike,

                Yes, free speech is important, but since none of those campus mobs were made up of police or soldiers acting on behalf of the govt to silence anyone, we’re not talking violations of the Bill of Rights. In fact, it could easily be argued that students protesting their college fees going to bring in someone like Milo, are not so much shutting down his freedom of speech as exercising their own. (This is pet peeve of mine wrt RW complaints about freedom of speech, btw. Richard Spencer getting shouted down is depicted as a martyr for free speech, but the people protesting somehow are not supposed to be allowed to speak and exercise their own freedom of speech in protest).

                As to college campuses, I am not at all surprised when 18-20somethings get overly dramatic or go overboard about some issue. It honestly doesn’t seem worse to me now, but I grew up watching tv news about anti-Vietnam protests, so nothing I’m seeing lately looks all that extreme or scary.

                Now, threats of and attempts at violence should be taken seriously. I honestly haven’t seen many news items about antifa trying to blow up police stations, but I have seen quite a number about various far right people and groups planning, and even carrying out, attacks. The fact that you never seem so concerned about those makes your alarmism about the Left ring hollow to me.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Mike,

                Yes, there are certain elements to the ideological SJL that I strongly disagree with and amount to nothing more than faith-based declarations.

                Take standpoint epistemology, which on its face may seem relatively neutral. People from marginalized standpoints have knowledge localized to their situation. That’s a reasonable claim.

                Claiming that the knower of that information is the ONLY person that can be the knower and have epistemic and moral privilege as a result? Since it stands the concept of being able to communicate and transmit information on its head, I think we can check that off as faith.

                You can find more under “constructivism and education”

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivist_epistemology

                I think the viewpoints you speak of are becoming more prevalent in mainstream discourse (Slate just had an oppression olympics style article on Pete Buttieg (sp?)) Purely identity focused. Pure headache.

                That’s becoming more prevalent than the destructiveness, and don’t think there are counter movements in social media that are pushing back. Some of us are liberals that just have no need for that shit. Some…not so liberal…

                Not necessarily seeing it as big of a threat as you do isn’t handwaving. It’s disagreement and it’s valid given exactly what he said. Paint with a broad enough brush and any story writes itself.

                I’d say the people you think are getting hit by the “increasingly destructive Left” are starting to hit back harder.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Matthew J. Luther says:

            the motte: “those most concerned with “virtue signaling” are never actually policing the sincerity or consistency of their opponents, so much as attempting to stamp out their countervailing values…”
            the bailey: virtue is good and condemning virtue is badReport

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Marchmaine says:

          Jordan Peterson noted some research that found that xenophobia is highly correlated to the presence of communicable diseases in a population. Xenophobia is especially prevalent in third world countries such as in Central America, and the conclusion was that xenophobia is a natural fear of diseases that outsiders might bring in. I have no idea why Central Americans would worry about foreigners bringing in diseases that could devastate the local population, but there it is.

          I would say that the notion might explain the observed uptick in border concerns after several US outbreaks of diseases that were almost unheard of here were traced to Central American migrants, including the worrisome new polio mimic that isn’t polio but does the same kind of neurological damage. Measles didn’t spontaneously arise in New York’s unvaccinated school kids, somebody from outside the US brought it in. The same happened with drug resistant tuberculosis. Ellis Island used to send sick immigrants back so New York didn’t suffer waves of epidemics, but now we’ve lost that filter.

          So what Peterson noted is that screaming about xenophobia is just hurling insults that do nothing to reduce xenophobia. However, vaccinating people at the border, or returning those who are carrying a communicable disease, might eliminate the xenophobia.

          And as a side note, if xenobiology is the study of alien life, shouldn’t xenophobia be the fear of alien life? The Andromeda Strain was a dire warning that we really need to worry about alien microbes.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to George Turner says:

            @george

            This is extremely interesting and absolutely jibes with my understanding of much of the early 20th century immigration concerns.Report

          • Avatar Dave in reply to George Turner says:

            However, vaccinating people at the border, or returning those who are carrying a communicable disease, might eliminate the xenophobia

            Are you one of those people that feels this way? Just a yes or no will work.

            No need for a long-winded bullshit answer.Report

          • Matthew J. Luther Matthew J. Luther in reply to George Turner says:

            What Peterson offers may serve as an explanation for xenophobia as a matter of evolutionary psychology, but evolutionary psychology only really offers explanations for the emergence of a particular meme or trait in a broad population (i.e., the sorts of evolutionary pressures that contribute to its prevalence). In the age of mass media, mass democracy, and coherent political ideology, memes are self-sustaining and xenophobia has legs. These traits and tendencies don’t just go away with the tides.

            Moreover, Petersen’s explanation, while interesting, is not a comprehensive one. More factors than mere disease contribute to xenophobia, as much as disease may bring it to the fore or increase its expression in society. One need look no further than the reasons given by xenophobes for their views. Concern for communicable disease does not even begin to top the list. If it did, one might expect, for instance, that publications like VDARE would be a hotbed of pro-vaccine advocacy, but, to put it gently, they are not.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Matthew James Luther says:

        This subthread exemplifies why the term “virtue signaling” has almost no meaning since “virtue” is very narrow, and “signalling” so broad.

        For instance-

        Going to church is signalling, since it isn’t actually performing an act of love and kindness like feeding the homeless.

        However, feeding the homeless is actually signalling, since it is done in public view, not something sincere like giving to someone anonymously.

        However, giving to someone anonymously is signalling to oneself that one is virtuous…

        The boundary lines around sincere action and public signalling can be drawn as wide or as tight as one wishes them to be depending on what needs to be proven.

        Part of this is because for most cultures, performing public acts of signalling are themselves considered a virtue.
        Touching a mezuza, crossing oneself, saluting the flag..the cultures that created these rituals don’t consider them empty signals, but important affirmations.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          I kinda like my definition:

          when you engage in a virtue, you’re going to signal that virtue as an epiphenomenon of virtue acting.

          But when you engage in virtue signaling, the signal is no longer an epiphenomenon. It *IS* the phenomenon.

          Another way to look at it might be to figure out what is going on if you don’t speak the language.

          “Oh, that lady of color who could very well be trans is giving food to someone who is dirty and looks like they’ve been beaten down by life and saying soothing words and the recipient looks grateful.”
          “Oh, that white dude is giving a speech and then smiling at the applause he’s getting and then he sits down.”Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

            So going to church is…Virtue? Signalling?Report

            • Avatar veronica d in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              It depends on the church.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to veronica d says:

                It depends upon the actor.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Yeah, that too.

                For those of you who don’t know, my daddy was a preacher man, so I grew up going to church. Was I virtue signalling? Nah, of course not. I went because in my house it was mandatory.

                Anyway, church folks — they’re just as shallow and narcissistic as everyone else. The after church socializing was just as false and petty as any batch of randos stuck in a room together. There was all the normal politicking and adultery and backstabbing and all of that. Plus one time there was a homicide. That was fun. The local paper accused my father of having had an affair with the murder victim. (It wasn’t him. It was the choir director. The murderer was the spurned husband, although a jury wasn’t convinced.)

                Anyhow, church folks are just folks.

                Ultimately my dad got run out on the rails because he took a firm pro-gay-marriage stance. The congregation wouldn’t stand for that. He found a better church.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              I’d say that my definition is one that allows for most any “virtuous” act to be virtuous *OR* signaling.

              Helping the poor could be signaling.
              Enjoying entertainment could be virtuous.

              Is the signal an epiphenomenon or is it the phenomenon?

              Pointing out that signals exist independently of the motivations of the signaler shouldn’t be *THAT* interesting.Report

          • Matthew J. Luther Matthew J. Luther in reply to Jaybird says:

            Jay, I agree that there is a distinction to be made between the epiphenomenal virtue signaling and the phenomenal variety, but I would submit that even a platitudinous embrasure of our norms should not be discouraged, or at least that criticisms should not stray too far from stressing that the norm should be followed, not just spoken about.

            I think there is a difference between what is morally good for an individual in the sense of their spiritual well-being (e.g., don’t be a hypocrite, remove the log from your own eye, etc.), and what is good for the, admittedly temporal, goal of strengthening public virtues. In that sense, hypocrisy and platitudes are less a moral menace for the broader public goal of promoting virtue than they are for the private goal of cultivating it in a given individual, to the extent that condemning the former in the public context can eventually become counter-productive. There may be value in even insincere virtue signaling, if it strengthens peer pressure on others to ‘fake it ’til they make it.’Report

            • Oh, I’m a big fan of hypocrisy. Let me quote myself and point to something I said a million years ago:

              I agree that giving lip service to virtue is very important. Hell, even hypocrisy is important because it tells us what the important virtues are. (Virtues that are important enough to lie about.)

              I don’t really have a problem with hypocrisy or with deliberately phenomenal virtue signaling.

              But neither do I really have a problem with calling hypocrisy out (nor with calling out deliberately phenomenal virtue signaling).

              Now, I *DO* think that it’s more important to hammer out the virtues than to hammer on people who are merely hypocrites/signaling… but it’s important to periodically do so. Not necessarily pour encourager les autres but because virtue benefits from actually being done from time to time.

              The problem with someone virtue signaling isn’t that the signal is bad. It’s that the signal is good… but if you’re acting virtuously in service to fashion (or whatever is driving your desire to signal), tomorrow you could well be signaling something else entirely.

              To paraphrase Coach Taylor:

              Signaling virtue is not a goal. It’s a by-product.Report

  4. Avatar bookdragon says:

    “There’s a difference between offering alternatives and just making noise.”

    Amen.

    I’d also say that if you hold something to truly be a virtue, you don’t dismiss or abandon it just because the political party you are most closely affiliated with has now decided it doesn’t matter. To me, this is the dividing line between actual classical conservatives and those who will simply fall in line with any leader with an R after their name. (And yes, that goes for liberals too. It’s just that the contradictions aren’t so there right now).Report

  5. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    Both conservatives and liberals have always embraced free expression and conformance to norms, but held them in tension by some set of principles.

    In the Counterculture era it was liberals who stressed free expression and conservatives who stressed conformance.

    Which was understandable since the norms embraced by conservatives were being attacked by liberals as unjust or stifling.

    Today though, I think the shoe is on the other foot. I see liberals making new norms of behavior and constructing social structures to enforce them, and conservatives stressing the virtues of free expression and iconoclasm.

    Which, as the essay shows, leads to some awkward places where religious leaders defend as mere “locker room talk” language that would have gotten Lenny Bruce arrested.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      “Shock the Middle Classes” has been a thing since Rimbaud. It was probably a thing long-before Rimbaud entered into existence. The interesting thing to see is when and how the mores of the middle-classes change. Right now, the Middle Classes are seen as liberals who care about things like social justice, income inequality, racial issues, the environment, etc. But I also think the word “elite” has become so distorted that it now means a 26-year old Brooklyn public school teacher with three roommates who happens to prefer not going to Church on Sunday and knows who Dana Schutz is. The Florida paving contractor who makes high 6 or low 7 seven figure dollars a year and owns an 300,000 dollar boat is not elite. This makes no sense to me but it is how our world works in 2019.

      The thing I’ve noticed in debates between anti-Trump people is how willing are they to go to defend Trumpian voters and/or people who work for the Trump administration. Lots of anti-Trump voters come from right-wing backgrounds and dislike attacks on Trump voters because they see those as attacks on friends and family members. I’m willing to say that voting for Trump is a bed a person made and they need to lie in it. If you think Trump is morally atrocious and vulgar, don’t vote for him. Don’t try to justify it with mental backflips on how he is going to support your pet causes because of the R next to his name.

      This is why I am extremely skeptical when Ezra Klein tries to uses facts and figures against a declarative statement of Trump on how the country is “full.” Ezra Klein’s wonkish and earnest argument says more about his psychological needs than anything about Trump and his supporters. The earnest wonk wants/needs to live in a world where facts and figures matter. Trump’s statement was a racist one and designed to appeal to his rural base. You don’t see people wearing “Fuck off, we’re full” t-shirt in New York or Los Angeles. You see them wearing them in places like Wyoming.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        If you see “cultural cachet” as a precursor to whether someone is élite, it might make sense to see someone with an actual education as being higher on the totem pole than some common laborer just because the laborer can afford a McMansion in flyover.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

          That’s one theory, but a very charitable one.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

            There’s also “cultural capital”.

            I don’t know how to measure whether laborers have much of that, though.Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

              Or more simply “elite” is typically just a label to hang on someone you don’t like to suggest they are less worthy or not the “right” kind of person. Since it isn’t attached much to anything else tangible. It’s the “you aren’t a Real American” for the late 2010’s.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                This is very wrong, Greg.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                It’s not very wrong, since quite a few people, including high profile ones with national platforms, use it in exactly that way.

                The fact that they can do so and imply negative things that certain members of their audience will pick up on, while others think the connotations are completely innocent, might be analogized to, say, a high frequency sound that humans cannot hear, but other animals might.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Oh, I’m not disagreeing that it can be a dogwhistle.

                It sure as hell can!

                I’m disagreeing that it’s a term used to describe someone who is, let me copy and paste this, “someone you don’t like to suggest they are less worthy or not the “right” kind of person”.

                I’m not saying that it’s not a word like “privileged”.

                I’m saying that it’s a word adjacent to “privileged”.

                Now, does “privileged” get used against people who *AREN’T* particularly privileged? It sure does! Ironically enough, it seems to mostly be used that way by people who went to colleges that are expensive to the point where they’re out of the reach of a lot of people.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                @Jaybird,

                I’m disagreeing that it’s a term used to describe someone who is, let me copy and paste this, “someone you don’t like to suggest they are less worthy or not the “right” kind of person”.

                But it very much is used that way. It’s just not exclusively used that way.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Oh. Well, Greg, Chip, and Saul use it the way that they’re using it.

                So, by definition, people use it like that.

                Q.E.D.

                Those darn élite construction workers who have never even heard of Dana Schutz.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                @Jaybird,

                They do use it that way. But they’re reacting to other people using it that way, because other people definitely use it that way.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                I have seen elite used sneeringly… Paris Hilton, for example… but not for construction workers unless it’s being used as a descriptor of how good the construction worker is.

                “This guy is an elite welder.”

                I mean, seriously. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills here.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                No, it’s not being used sneeringly at construction workers (even really successful ones who have a ton of money because they’ve gone from “workers” to “owners”).

                It’s being used sneeringly at people in entry-level professional class jobs. Chip et al. are noticing that this doesn’t make a lot of sense.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                It’s being used sneeringly at people in entry-level professional class jobs. Chip et al. are noticing that this doesn’t make a lot of sense.

                If you read Marx, it might make more sense.Report

            • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

              That’s also a charitable interpretation, though a largely identical one.

              Not that I would ever suggest that nobody uses the term in that way.

              Surely many people do.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Cultural cachet and cultural capital are two very different things.

                I have a lot of cultural capital. I’ve got it coming out of my ears.

                Cultural cachet? Eh, not so much.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                I see. Fair enough.

                Though in my (at best partial) defense people really do seem to conflate the two a lot, assuming that someone with the cachet surely must have the capital as well.

                Both are quite benign readings of the term.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                I read “cultural capital” as something that is an unequivocal good that we need buckets more of.

                I read “cultural cachet” as something that is silly and ephemeral.

                Despite having the word “cultural” in both terms, the “cultures” referred to are two *VERY* different things.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                You may, but people routinely assume that the Brooklyn public school teacher that Saul used to illustrate his point has a ton of cultural capital to go along with their alleged cultural cachet.

                I agree it’s an error to conflate the two, but I’m pretty sure it’s not just me who does that.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Lives in an “elite” city… union job… works for the government… has at least a bachelor’s degree (maybe a Master’s)… I assume that they’re a teacher teacher and not, say, a substitute teacher… and Saul specifically mentions how they’re in tune with a particular local artist (local to Brooklyn, I mean)…

                Insofar as “elite” is defined positionally, I’d have to see the list of people we’re comparing this teacher to.

                A guy who works the roads in Florida, you say?

                Yeah.

                I’m going to say that we’re not using “elite” the way that it’s been used prior to this comment section.

                It’s more like we’re attempting a 1:1 word swap with “privileged” and using it as a cudgel.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                A guy who works roads in Florida and is a millionaire as a result.

                Definitely has the ear of some local politicians and very probably some state level ones, has a circle of business relationships that provide both social and economic activities, stable housing situation (and a house that’s probably nice as hell), and so on.

                I admittedly don’t know a ton of Floridians of any stripe, but I happen to know quite a few New Jerseyans who match the description. I also know folks who have advanced degrees who work in the NY Public School System.

                The argument that the latter are better situated than the former, or are somehow more powerful and exert more control over the world, is just not very plausible at all.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                I happen to know quite a few New Jerseyans who match the description.

                How elite do they strike you as being?

                Like, did you have them categorized as “elite” in your head before today?

                If we’re just saying that elite means income, I agree that being in the top 1% makes you a member of the elite.

                Indeed, being in the top 1% of anything makes you elite for the category.

                So elite means income?

                Cool.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                Kind of, yeah. More so than the various folks I know who are beginning their professional lives (or continuing them at great effort) while making not very much money in NYC.

                And yeah, I’ve definitely described them as “elite” before. Not only on account of income, but also on account of being extremely successful in a realm where many aren’t.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                I think my disconnect is that I’ve always associated “elite” with the concept of “Brahmin”.

                And so, while it may be possible to use “elite” with stuff that is non-Brahmin, it’s as an identifier of skill level.

                So you can have an elite basketball player. An elite driver. An elite coder.

                But if you’re just talking about “The Elite”? You’re not talking about StarCraft players. You’re talking about Brahmin.

                And when the term is used sneeringly, it’s used against people like, yes, Paris Hilton. Who is decidedly un-Brahmin.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                @Jaybird,

                Lives in an “elite” city… union job… works for the government… has at least a bachelor’s degree

                Do you think the people who would use the word “elite” to describe Saul’s teacher would use the same word to describe an NYPD officer?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Probably not.

                There’s a cultural component as well. The cops don’t have that cultural component.

                I mean, do they know who Dana Schutz is?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yeah and it’s that cultural component that makes me, Saul, et c. expect that this has nothing to do with any actual power and has everything to do with tired culture war bollocks at best and anti-LGBT and/or anti-semitic dog whistling at worst.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Oh, it’s *TOTALLY* tied to culture war!

                But it’s also tied to actual power.

                It’s tied to a *LOT* of things.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                I think if it’s tied to actual power, the person who has a better than even chance of getting away with shooting you for no reason should be ranked much more highly than the person who has a better than even chance of knowing who Dana Schutz is, ceteris paribus.

                And based on your characterization, ceteris are pretty freaking paribus.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                I agree. But we don’t see the police described as “elite” usually, even by people who don’t use it as synonymous with either “Brahmin” or “Privileged”.

                (Though, I agree, they do have a special status in society. But Kshatriya are not Brahmin.)Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to pillsy says:

                Funny thing, I literally have no idea who Dana Schutz is.

                I suppose I could Google it, but I think I’ll bask in ignorance instead.

                (At least I’m not “elite,” I guess. Except I am, obviously.)Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to veronica d says:

                I don’t either, despite living in the NY Metro, having a couple fancy degrees under my belt, working for a big multinational corporation that requires me to travel a lot to other countries, having immigrants for most of my coworkers, and even being Jewish.

                But I decided to roll with the signifier.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                You guys *MIGHT* know who she is. Not because of her art, necessarily, but because she went through a period where a handful of people were trying to “cancel” her back in 2017 for her “Open Casket” painting of Emmett Till.

                You might remember the arguments over Cultural Appropriation and whether White Artists should paint about such things, etc, etc, etc.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                @Jaybird,

                I remember the controversy creating a mild ripple at the outer periphery of my infosphere, because some folks were using it as their latest example of political correctness gone mad.

                It did not make enough of an impression for me to remember the artist’s name.

                I think this stuff is way more salient to people who aren’t really part of this world than it to the people who allegedly are part of the world.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Salient?

                Hey. She wasn’t *MY* example.

                (But I’m pleased that you do remember the kerfuffle.)Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                She wasn’t *MY* example.

                :scrolls aaaaaaaaaall the way to the top of the thread:

                Never mind.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

          I suppose but that makes more sense. Who do you think has more access to their politicians? A Brooklyn public school teacher or a Florida paving contractor?

          Greg is right here. “Elite” is just a way of stating “Person I don’t like because reasons…”Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            Um, no?

            “Elite” is a variant of “privileged”.

            While it can be a way of saying “Person I don’t like because reasons”, the reasons are on a list that is not exhaustive. It has members of a set that can be described somewhat succinctly and it does not include a great many other people that are easily disliked.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

              But it doesn’t help if the reasons on the list are themselves arbitrary and moveable.

              The Elite are people who drive big pickup trucks with gun racks. Or people who start their own businesses. Or people who are in law enforcement. Because, well, there are some sorts of privilege associated with those things, in certain circumstances.

              But everyone can play this game.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                The Elite are people who drive big pickup trucks with gun racks.

                I have never heard the elite described this way before.

                Anybody else? Anybody else familiar with this? I need to get my bearings here.

                people who start their own businesses.

                Some of them. Depends on the business. “Earl’s Fly Tackle and Bait Shoppe” in the Upper Peninsula probably isn’t someone that has been described as “elite” prior to this comment thread.

                Dave Packard, on the other hand, could be.

                Or people who are in law enforcement

                Um… I could see someone do this. Like, in a thread in which they’re describing how people in law enforcement can, for example, shoot whomever they want without consequence.

                Because, well, there are some sorts of privilege associated with those things, in certain circumstances.

                Sure. But my experience with “elite” tends to be experience with discussing people who are in a high percentile. It makes sense to talk about, for example, elite basketball players. Maybe elite businessmen. Perhaps even elite video gamers.

                But “elite” as a way to describe “people I don’t like”?

                Pull the other one.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Consider it pulled. Elite is used for the “wrong kind” of people. If you live in the wrong area or like the wrong things you are one of those people.

                A few years ago a heard a guy ranting about xc skiers, they were elites. He was the right kind of person, a snow machiner. This of course leaves out that a person can get a xc ski set up for a couple hundred bucks while most snow machiners have set ups that cost into the 10’s of thousands. My best guess was that people who did human powered exercise were “elites.”

                It’s not like a couldn’t go to a dozen conservative sites and find liberals called elites just for being liberals.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Greg, I am familiar with townies calling vacationers “elites”.

                That’s not where my confusion is coming from.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Jaybird says:

                My confusion on the term is that as a degreed scientist working for a federal science agency I get tagged as “elite” in political discussions by conservatives but Donald Trump – Multi Millionaire – doesn’t get tagged the same way by the same people. In fact I am often tagged as elitist for daring to point out that Mr. Trump hasn’t ever driven himself to the store, much less actually ever bought his own groceries. If my education and political leanings make me priviledged elite then what exactly is he? Because if he’s not – then yeah the term is being used as an “Othering” sorting mechanism to differentiate people for political and rhetorical ends.

                And in Mississippi, elites do in fact drive big pick up trucks.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Philip H says:

                I admit, if I were thinking of terms to come up with to describe Donald Trump, “elite” wouldn’t be one of them.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Huh….nobody was vacationing. There were all locals. And it was clear who had the correct identity as a Real Alaskan.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Locals complaining that the “hoity-toity” are “elite” is something else I’m familiar with.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Billionaire who was born wealthy isn’t “elite”????? Well there is your problem right there.

                If all elite means is a certain style or taste then it doesn’t mean much. And it will always end up just being used to tar people you don’t like for no other reason.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Born wealthy doesn’t make you elite.

                It makes you born wealthy.

                I mean, good god. Do you consider Trump to be elite? He’s certainly a billionaire President.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Of course Trump is and has always been an elite. I could have told you that 25 years ago when i lived in NJ. Being born wealthy opens up all sorts of doors and removes all sorts of worries and problems. That sounds pretty elite to me. He was guaranteed to be set for life almost no matter what he did. He could have been named Elite McElitepants.

                Making “elite” just a matter of taste also makes the term useless but does show to be just the classy insult it’s meant to be. Being crass or an abrasive ahole certainly can be authentic. It can also be a great act to put on to show how down to earth you are. If elite is just an act to put on for you audience then it ain’t much. See what i did there….common folks use terms like “ain’t.’ I’m no gol durned elite.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                And that’s the disconnect in our definitions that we’re using.

                You see Trump and you see an elite.

                I see Trump and I see someone who will never be.

                And, according to the definitions we’re using, we can’t believe the other doesn’t see the same thing.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                It seems like you are using elite to just mean the most superficial or changeable aspects of person divorced from any substance. If trump isn’t elite then nobody is and the word is useless.

                If being born never having to work a day ever isn’t’ elite then nothing is.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                If being born never having to work a day ever isn’t’ elite then nothing is.

                See? Completely different definitions.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Umm…yeah, you aren’t pointing out something obvious. If we agreed then, well, we wouldn’t’ be disagreeing. Does having a different definition of “elite” actually make me an Elite? It seems like it might.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                If you’re using it as interchangeable with “privileged”, then knock yourself out.

                I agree that Trump is privileged as heck.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

                Jeez Jaybird.

                I’ll admit that there is probably a cultural impressiveness that a Brooklyn public school teacher can have in certain circles because she knows who Dana Schutz is.

                This doesn’t make him or her elite if they are living in a walk-up with three roommates and going to museums on the free days.

                A rich paving contractor is at least local elite and maybe a state-wide elite because they have political connections and can call people to get stuff done if the redtape is holding them up. The Brooklyn Public School teacher has to stand in line at the DMV like everyone else even if she or he is holding a poetry book while doing so.

                There are also plenty of circles where knowledge about Dana Schutz counts for shit. I’ve been told by fellow Bay Area liberals that they would rather discuss fun things like Wrestlemania than art and poetry. Proving everything is relative.

                But you seem insistent on giving people a free pass for their voting choices because an imaginary hipster college student might have made fun of a truck driver or paving contractor once for not knowing about Roland Barthes or Gary Snyder.

                We just found out that Nielsen was ousted from DHS for not being cruel enough and telling Trump he needed to follow the law and the courts. Trump wants to reinstate his separation and immigration policies and make them more cruel. Yet lots of people want to seemingly write off any moral choice in people whom voted for Trump despite knowing very well what he stood for.

                Why don’t Trump supporters/voters have moral agency? Why are they not responsible for their actions and consequences?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                But you seem insistent on giving people a free pass for their voting choices because an imaginary hipster college student might have made fun of a truck driver or paving contractor once for not knowing about Roland Barthes or Gary Snyder.

                This is one of those weird things where it’s not that I’m giving them a “free pass” as much as “understanding why they made the decisions that they did and, doing so, seeing how a repeat of that might best be avoided”.

                For my part, I’m not a fan of “they’re evil and therefore I don’t need to change”. I see that as leading either to divorce or war. I think that there are changes that could be made without a whole lot of moral compromises (though, granted, there will have to be concessions made on matters of taste).

                Why don’t Trump supporters/voters have moral agency? Why are they not responsible for their actions and consequences?

                They do and they do.

                They follow their best incentives.

                Personally, I think we ought to change what the incentives are.

                There’s a populist revolt all over much of the 1st World in response to immigration, Saul. If you’re hoping to overcome that, you’re going to need more than de facto open borders.

                Well, in the short term, anyway.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

                At least in the United States, the anti-immigrant forces won because the electoral system is rigged partially in their favor. Other times, they won through some fair amount of cheating and lying. Then when they try to govern, it turns out to be a disaster because their electorate wants a unicorn pony. You can’t deliver the unicorn pony though.

                As to concessions, what are they? Be explicit? The current batch of xenophobes as publicly stated all or nothing. The Democratic Party spent decades doing that tough and fair thing. It was Bill Clinton that passed IraIra in 1996. That wasn’t enough because the good people of who knows where Wyoming don’t want any immigration.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Of course you don’t hear liberals calling monster truck drivers as elite, because we don’t use the word the way conservatives do.
                But we could if we chose to, assert that rural white men are privileged and therefore elite. But we just say “white privilege” not “elite” because well, words have actual meaning.

                Calling a community college professor elite is every bit as stupid as calling a monster truck driver elite; it only makes sense as a codeword, not as an actual coherent idea.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                But we just say “white privilege” not “elite” because well, words have actual meaning.

                That’s what I thought but then someone came in here and started talking about construction people.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                The reason we use income or wealth as a metric for Elite is that it is fairly objective.

                Cultural cachet is essentially an arbitrary metric, no different than “People I don’t like”.

                Think of Gatsby, Catcher In The Rye, Mean Girls or Devil Wears Prada as showing how the boundary lines of cultural cachet, hipness, social elite have always been arbitrary, mysterious and opaque.

                Trump is actually a great example. He was born into the economic elite, yet has always been shunned by the social elite. He isn’t lacking for all the objective metrics- penthouse, yacht, jet, trophy wife;

                Yet there is some mysterious qualification that keeps his application to the Cool Kids table getting roundfiled.

                For the New York set, he is really just “People we don’t like.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                For the New York set, he is really just “People we don’t like.”

                And if I said “that’s because he’s not elite and the New York set *IS*”, would that make sense?

                Or is the obvious rejoinder “but he has a lot of money and was on a television show!”Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                No because you keep using social elite as your essential definition.

                That doesn’t work for a political discussion because, as I said, the definition of social elite is so mysterious and arbitrary, even those who are truly members are never sure if they really are or not.

                Economic elite is the only one that can possibly be useful in political discussions.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Economic elite is the only one that can possibly be useful in political discussions.

                The only one that could possibly be useful, you say?

                I disagree.

                For example, I could say that a president who was a member of the elite could get away with something that a president who was not could not get away with and it would be a statement that may or may not be accurate but it could certainly be useful.

                Responding to it by saying “what? Presidents are, by definition, members of the elite!” would be missing out on a great deal of potential utility.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                The thing i have no idea what your definition of elite is other then some vague determination of taste based on something or other.

                Even based on being a social elite trump is far more elite the most everybody because of his fame. Having a tv show is sort of a rare thing.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                My definition maps closely to an Americanized version of “Brahmin“.

                It has some overlap with taste, yes. But it has more going on than that.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                I don’t see how that is helpful in the slightest.

                First of all, it would be a lot of contortions to define any coherent group of Americans into some group call the Brahmins and call that our Elite.

                And secondly, it wouldn’t help us decide policy because such a group would include people who are currently treated very differently in law and practice.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I don’t see how that is helpful in the slightest.

                I believe you.

                it wouldn’t help us decide policy

                I’m trying to describe the world. Not decide policy.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                That is not even close to how elite is used in the world. Heck for a lot of people everybody living a coastal state who is a Dem or liberal is an elite. That is some serious identity politics right there. But Brahmin signifies a lot more then that. Just one of the issues is that a Brahmin will have a lot of power, socially and otherwise. Taste doesn’t’ equal power in any way other then as just one more consumer. If you want to try to map Brahmin onto america then you need to really slim down who it applies to in a meaningful way.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                That is not even close to how elite is used in the world.

                I believe it maps a lot closer than using it as a way to describe people we don’t like.

                Just one of the issues is that a Brahmin will have a lot of power, socially and otherwise.

                I agree! 100%!

                Taste doesn’t’ equal power in any way other then as just one more consumer.

                Have you heard the term “taste-maker”?

                If you want to try to map Brahmin onto america then you need to really slim down who it applies to in a meaningful way.

                That’s the work I thought “elite” was doing.

                Until today, anyway.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Taste maker? Like guys with branded steaks? Insta influencers? Taste makers are famous people. That’s who gets hired to sell stuff and guide tastes.

                I think i’ve been clear about what i think elite means and how many people use it as just way to call others not real american’s. Trump is an elite and always has been. Conservatives seem to typically use it as general derogatory for liberal.

                Even calling elites brahmin’s i still dont’ now how you think it applies other then as a taste marker. A kindergarten teacher in washington isn’t’ an elite just because Brahmin’s were teachers.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to greginak says:

                @greginak,

                Well obviously Brahmins aren’t going to have their own brand of steaks!Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to pillsy says:

                (clears throat)

                “Smuggling of cattle and other forms of trafficking is widespread across the India-Bangladesh border.[12][51] Estimates place the number of illegally smuggled to over one million a year.[52][12][9] The vested interests across all parties have failed to curb the large scale smuggling, with some Hindus also involved in the cattle smuggling operations.[53][54] Cattle smuggling and trade is lucrative and it is a key means for the local elites at the India-Bangladesh border for raising money for politics and for acquiring personal wealth.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle_theft_in_India#Cattle_smuggling_in_India

                There is that pesky word Elite again….Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to pillsy says:

                This joke is going places that I feel that only I have the right to make 🙂Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                The steaks that failed? (Look at the list of Trump-branded things that failed. It’s long, Greg.)Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to greginak says:

                Heck for a lot of people everybody living a coastal state who is a Dem or liberal is an elite.

                Trump is almost exactly the kind of person that his base means when they say “coastal elite”. He is the epitome of the famous New Yorker cover. After the election, he visited six foreign countries before he set foot west of the Mississippi River. It was another two-three months before he went farther than Iowa. His campaign staff has complained lately that he doesn’t want to visit the West because the flights are too tiring. They had to practically drag him to California to do fund-raising.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                @Jaybird,

                There’s a populist revolt all over much of the 1st World in response to immigration, Saul. If you’re hoping to overcome that, you’re going to need more than de facto open borders.

                I’m not sure what that has to do with alleged objections to Brooklyn hipsters, TBQH.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                It’s not the alleged objections to Brooklyn hipsters.

                It’s the whole issue of Trump voters being evil and requiring a reckoning.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Is that it?

                Elite means anyone who is opposed to Trump?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                No?

                But I think you’ll find that quite a few elite *ARE* opposed to Trump. Almost overwhelmingly so.

                But “most X do Y” should not be read as “so everyone who Ys is an X”.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                You cannot have a reasonable conversation with JB on this topic, because he does not approach this topic from a place of reason. Instead, I suspect he approaches it from a place of unresolved nerd-trauma. The “elite” are the cool kids who sit at the cool kids table and look down their noses at the not-cool-kids. That is the core of this. It is about envy and pain.

                Trump is obviously elite by any reasonable definition, given his actual material power — he’s the fucking president for Pete’s sake. He fills auditoriums with chanting crowds. However, for someone whose lens is distorted by their own envy for the “cool kids,” then no. You won’t get past that. There is no point trying.

                (Although it is reasonable to point out that JB’s position is asinine, but that’s been established.)Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to veronica d says:

                Ugh could we not do the psychoanalysis thing?

                I clash with Jaybird all the time over this (and other) subjects but this is the sort of thing that, if I were in his shoes, would make me feel extremely shitty for no good reason.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to pillsy says:

                I’m quite convinced JB knows exactly what game he is playing. This is bad faith from tip to tail.

                And indeed, why a person holds the position they hold is important, and by “why” I don’t mean how they justify or rationalize it. I mean what is actually happening, the underlying dynamic.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                This goes back to the mistake/conflict thing.

                I think Veronica is wrong.
                Veronica seems to think that I am bad.

                And we argue against each other accordingly.

                I have faith that if she’s right, she’ll be able to explain it in a way that will get me to change my mind.
                She has faith that I am doing this in bad faith.

                And so it goes, and so it goes, and so it goes.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                I won’t be able to change your mind. I more wish to communicate to others what they are dealing with.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

                That’s an interesting wrinkle.

                If person A is really bad at explaining their position, or if person B is just not capable of grokking an explanation as presented*, how easily does person B go from Mistake to Conflict simply out of frustration?

                As an aside, I never think JB is arguing in bad faith, but rather he is trying to abstract things in ways that many of us, myself included, have trouble grokking. JoeSal does something similar, and I have to really want to understand either of them in order to put in the work needed to grok their arguments.

                *This is not indicative of a lack of intelligence, but rather an profound misalignment in how a topic is thought about.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I think it’s sophistry. One should be able to state their position, set down their stakes, step up, and be clear. To my view it’s a matter of character.

                JB never actually says where he stands. Instead, he hints around at it, while taking cheap shots at everyone else’s stated position. That’s a weaksauce move. We shouldn’t put up with it.

                That said, I think I know where he stands, although he’d never straight up admit it.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to veronica d says:

                By contrast, JoeSal is a different thing entirely. His problem is not good faith. I trust his integrity. His problem is a map-territory thing. He’s the “hyper-intelligent but actually fucking clueless” type, the sort who has constructed an elaborate system of nonsense that doesn’t map to the real world in any useful way.

                Which is bad, I suppose, but I value character more.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

                I don’t see it as sophistry as much as arguing from a foreign headspace.

                As an example, I often see (usually college kids or recent grads) arguing to a general audience for social justice while using the language of the academy. Terms and phrases and arguments most people won’t understand unless they’ve had the classes or are read in the literature.

                I have had the classes, but a long time ago, and getting into that headspace, where those terms and phrases and arguments make sense takes effort. Are those people engaging in sophistry? Probably not. That’s probably just what headspace they are currently operating in, so for them it’s comfortable. For me, it’s not.

                Just like JB’s headspace isn’t comfortable for me. So I do the simple thing and I don’t engage JB on those points. And for me that’s a general rule. If I can’t get into the headspace a person is arguing from, I don’t engage unless I really, really want to.

                I mean, look back on my commenting history. I am very particular about when I engage JoeSal or JB.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                @Oscar Gordon — I agree about the “frame” thing. It’s a real issue. However, I don’t think that is what is happening here.

                Anyhow, I’ve said enough on the topic.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                I did say where I stand. I think that Virtue Signaling is inevitable but the good kind is the kind that is a by-product of virtue.

                Now we’re discussing the concept of “elite”. I came out and said that I thought the term more or less described an Americanized Brahmin (to the point where I’m flabbergasted that other people use the term to describe “people I don’t like”).Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                @Jaybird, veronica,

                I’m not tremendously surprised that JB is not terribly ruffled by this.

                Nonetheless, and appropriately enough for the comment section on this article, I’m doing a bit of virtue signaling of my own, because the armchair psychoanalysis tends to bug the shit out of me, and I’d like to see a lot less of it. This seems like a good way to reinforce a norm against it.

                As for the signal part, one thing this does is lay down something of a marker for me to help me obey what I think is an important norm in the future. Here I’ll have this statement just lying out there in an easily searched archive so if I give in to my own irritation and go down that road, someone will be able to dig this comment up and say, “In your face, hypocrite!”

                Doesn’t mean I won’t do it anyway, but it does mean I’ll look like much more of an asshole when I do.

                That’s the cost associated with the signal.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to veronica d says:

                Much of modern politics is driven by resentment of large masses of people who hate other folks for being cooler or classier — which seems to be jaybird’s idea of “elite” — than they are. There’s nothing wrong with pointing out an example that screams to be pointed out.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to CJColucci says:

                @CJColucci,

                It’s one thing to point out the resentment, it’s another to attribute it to trauma, even “nerd trauma”. And I’ve known enough nerds to know that for some of them, nerd trauma was actually a really severe thing.

                (As for what’s actually going on with JB, I think that Oscar is basically right. This is also why I keep arguing him: I’m pretty sure he’s making a Mistake.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                But the theory has explanatory power!Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                Look I’ve made comments that contained theories with a lot of explanatory power that the management here redacted.

                Better to keep it above the belt and forego some explanatory power IMO.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to pillsy says:

                So if veronica had spoken the language of resentment rather than psychology, that would be OK? Or of character rather than trauma? I much prefer the former language myself, though I consider that more a matter of style than of morals.
                Just want to make sure I understand the rules around here.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to CJColucci says:

                @CJColucci,

                I think so! A lot of it has to do with what I think of as splash damage. I mind politically partisan splash damage (as in @trumwill’s “woker-than-thou” example) much less than I mind what looks to me like shots at somebody’s mental health.

                For one you can only go so far in avoiding them in a forum where partisan political debate is specifically in bounds.

                For another, I personally am way touchier about the subject. Like many Americans (and for that matter fellow OT members) I have my own mental health issues and I resent the hell out of it when I think people are using them to take shots at me.

                And I feel even worse when I feel like I’m collateral damage when someone is using them to take shots at someone else.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                …I meant *MY* theory.

                Anyway, I’ve spoken before about how I grew up in a seriously fundamentalist variant of Christianity and how I was the kid on the beach witnessing to strangers about Young Earth Creationism.

                The tools that I see Veronica using on me remind me a great deal of the tools used on me in my childhood and adolescence and young adulthood.

                Given that I see her as wielding similar amounts of moral authority, it’s a dynamic that I am exceptionally familiar with.

                So when she does this stuff, again, I tend to remember when Bill did it… or when Sarah did it… or when I heard similar at Focus on the Family (did I tell you that I worked a janitorial job at Focus when I was around 20? I worked a janitorial job at Focus when I was around 20.) and so *I* am okay. At worst, I think “this shit again…”.

                At best I wonder “…does she not see how this presents to bystanders?”Report

              • As far as it goes, to me there isn’t much a dividing line between “resentment” and “trauma” as there is around attributing those motivations to specific individuals. It’s not unlike accusations towards leftwards being motivated by a desire to be woker-than-thou. Which we also see around here, unfortunately.

                It is typically not actionable from a moderator standpoint, and I do understand the need to vent, but none of it improves the conversation even when accurate.Report

  6. Avatar Pinky says:

    I’m sure that there will be a good conversation on this thread. There’s a lot about this article to talk about. But first, let me add a component to the article’s model. We may be seeing some old platoons disappearing, but we’re also seeing an increase in new platoons unmatched in human history, the voluntary associations that we’re participating in right here online. These new platoons differ from the old ones in their anonymity. You could say that for most people, or most platoons, the only thing they can do is signal.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Pinky says:

      Yeah i agree with this. How to deal with so many human relationships being anonymous is one we haven’t’ really figured out and also the root of a lot of the bile on the intertoobz. Most people don’t seem well equipped to deal with it. Having a situation where being cruel is free of cost isn’t really all that good.Report

    • Avatar pillsy in reply to Pinky says:

      I think the first part is definitely true; I’m less certain about the second.

      Why? Because people clearly get more out of their participation in these communities than, I guess, social status associated with the right signals. Maybe they get conversations about topics that interest them, or they get a place where they can discuss their problems with people who understand and sympathize, or they get to exchange funny jokes and sentimental stories that poke them right in the feels.

      Sure there are things they could get from a more conventional community that an Internet-mediated one can’t provide easily, like a couch to crash on, or someone to babysit when you have an emergency, or a bunch of folks to enjoy a backyard cookout with.

      I talk a lot about the downsides of uncritically treating Internet-mediated communities like conventional ones, but they provide a lot.

      Enough? I don’t know.

      Enough varies from person to person.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to pillsy says:

        Internet communities are great in many many ways. I’m on a few facebook running groups that are super supportive and helpful. But the other side of it is a lot of meanness of some peeps on the internet is due to being anonymous and having no consequences for being terrible.It’s hard to have community mores in a virtual community.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to greginak says:

          I think people overstate the degree to which anonymity inspires awfulness. Many people are horrible online despite being completely nonymous. (Nymous?)

          I think the fact that there aren’t immediate consequences to being an assho;e—ranging from seeing that you’ve actually hurt someone’s feelings and really upset them to not risking getting the shit beaten out of you—has more to do with that. And contrary to the posturings of some Internet Tough Guy types, I think that people mostly refrain from shit-talking because they don’t like hurting people’s feelings.

          It’s just that the distance, lack of nonverbal cues, et c. make it easier to forget that there’s a human on the other end of the Tubes.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to pillsy says:

        I think that people used to get a lot of those things (understanding, humor, etc.) from the old platoons too. I think they’re the flipside of the regulation aspect that the OA talks about. If you’re turning to someone for sympathy, you’re risking their judgment.

        There are also a bunch of things that online communities provide that are more tangible. News, art, crypto-currency, online meetups, Craigslist (is that still around?)…in a way, Uber is an online community. So it’s not just signalling. I mean, 3D printing, right? So maybe I should not say that internet platoons are mostly for signalling. But maybe most signalling now occurs via internet platoons.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Pinky says:

          I see the role of the platoons also as just simply creating community. My grandparents belonged to social clubs, democratic clubs, the Moose Lodge, FOP, bowling leagues, etc. None of my friends do stuff like that. Even if they go to church, they mostly just attend service and then come home. Everyone is hyper-focused on their immediate families. Sure, people volunteer, etc but even that feels like virtue signaling, not community building.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to Pinky says:

          Yeah agreed.

          Also a lot of the potentially toxic turns that Internet-mediated communities can take are toxic in large part because those communities matter to people (and the incentive to preserve them and make sure their members are trustworthy also inspires a lot of toxic behavior).Report

          • Avatar veronica d in reply to pillsy says:

            It’s the social dynamics of social media. It’s just different from anything we’ve dealt with before. Our intuitions don’t work.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 in reply to veronica d says:

              It’s the numbers. We’re not wired to deal with more than a hundred or two hundred people as “people”.

              If 1000 people follow you on Twitter — or 1000 people scream at you incoherently on Twitter — it’s like having everyone you’ve ever known personally right there. Like a small town backing (or attacking) a single member of the town.

              To our brains, that screams “Everyone hates/likes me” (depending on what’s going on). It’s not true. 1000 people is effectively zero, given the number of people that speak your language and use Twitter. Even as a fraction of the people who have come across your Twitter feed, it’s still pretty close to zero.

              But that’s not how it feels. Your monkey brain says “That’s a LOT of people, if they’re all angry I must be doing something wrong” or “If they’re all happy, I must be doing something right” or “If they all praise me as a genius, I must be a genius”.

              None of that’s true, but — especially those of us who didn’t grow up with it — it feels true. Whether it’s good, bad or ugly.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Morat20 says:

                I don’t know if I buy that. If a thousand people gathered around and praised/insulted me, I’m sure I would respond viscerally. But a counter next to an upward or downward pointed thumb? That doesn’t appeal to our most primitive fight or flight instinct. We have to process that information through some high-level steps before we would respond to it. I’m not sure the benefit of using a tribal / instinctive explanation for that. If there are some sophisticated mental steps between the thumb counter and the suicidal impulse, that means we can intervene.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Morat20 says:

                It’s a lot of people because it *is* a lot of people. 1000 one-star reviews on Amazon means that nobody will ever read your book. 1000 people who comment “LOL UR A TARD” on every one of your Tweets means that nobody will ever be able to engage with you, because even if you’ve blocked them everyone else will still be drowned out.Report

              • Matthew J. Luther Matthew J. Luther in reply to DensityDuck says:

                There’s evidence that online harassment and overt hostility does have serious adverse effects on a person’s sense of well-being, but if I remember the research correctly, the largest negative impacts come from a sense of being ignored online. If no satisfactory response is made to attempts at communication online, people tend to register greater disappointment and loneliness even than when they are facing negative attention.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

              If ever there was a “Yeah, no shit!” statement.

              I’ll echo Morat20, we’re wired to be connected, but not this connected.Report

          • Avatar Pinky in reply to pillsy says:

            Yeah, that sounds right.Report

  7. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    …by demonstrating good behavior

    This is the crux of the issue with virtue signaling as a criticism. No one tried to slam Mother Teresa as a virtue signaler when she said we needed to care for the poor, because she lived that shit. But the white bread soccer mom complaining on some book review site that some book doesn’t treat some aspect of race or ethnicity correctly… that’s the kind of crap that gives ammo to the alt-right.Report

    • Avatar pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Since my subtle allusion-by-linking to Christopher Hitchens’ The Missionary Position isn’t coming through, maybe I’ll take issue with this instead:

      But the white bread soccer mom complaining on some book review site that some book doesn’t treat some aspect of race or ethnicity correctly… that’s the kind of crap that gives ammo to the alt-right.

      See, if the WBSM took issue with the book’s characterization, or pacing, or massive plot holes, I don’t think anyone would describe it as virtue signaling, much less suggest that it gives ammo to the alt-right. So complaining about the book is not the issue.

      Nor do I think there would be universal disdain and rejection of all criticisms of the way a given book might handle race or ethnicity. Some books really are bananas racist, especially older ones.

      So there’s more to it than just the complaining or even the nature of the complaint. It usually has to do with, say, grasping at straws. Just dismissing it as virtue signaling even in a case like this is unlikely to be terribly useful.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy says:

        Virtue signalling is only a problem if it causes a reaction. If an activist cries out onto the internet, and no one cares, do they have an impact?

        But if their complaint goes viral and causes a young author to pull their book release…

        If a signal is used as cover for questionable behavior, even if the bad behavior is not being done by the signaler, then there is a problem. Maybe the WBSM never meant to cause the book to be pulled, but a lot of other people used that signal as an excuse to dog pile some poor person.

        And as we discussed before, the dog pile may be small, but it sure feels big when you are under it.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          I think this is true. And the thing that sets the complaint about racism apart isn’t the person making it, it’s that people who aren’t the person making it feel they ought to repeat it even if they don’t have first hand information backing it up.

          That’s a problem, but I’m not sure the problem is correctly understood from the standpoint of “virtue signaling”. I doubt the calculation being made is one of social status [1], but people believe (justifiably) that they have a stake in combating the spread of racist messages in a way that they don’t have a stake in combating the spread of plot holes.

          The “virtue” aspect makes the message more contagious.[2] This is a problem, but I don’t know if “virtue signaling” is the right way to address it.

          [1] This may have something to do with people who otherwise would object remaining quiet, but there are other reasons for that too that seem to get short shrift.

          [2] The YA lit blowups around social justice issues seem to have a strong component of people joining into dog piles over books they hadn’t seen at all. This is not so great.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy says:

            Most times, it isn’t the signal source that’s doing harmful VS, it’s all the repeater stations who, as you say, broadcast without necessary context.

            It’s the repeaters who are doing the harmful VS.

            That’s not to say that the source isn’t aware of the potential for repeaters, and is counting on it to some degree, but unless they include something like, “let’s make them famous”, it can be tricky to suss out that bit of intent.Report

            • Avatar pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              Yeah, I really think one of the things we need is a norm against knee-jerk RTs (re-shares, et c.) of these kinds of complaints. The best way to prevent epidemics is reducing the reproduction number of the infection.Report

        • Avatar Maribou in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Can we just … *not* pick on WBSM’s for this example? They’re rarely the people making the kind of complaints in this example, they often (these days) have biracial kids themselves, or kids in their lives who are important to them that they feel protective of…. and I’m really tired of them being the go to negative stereotype of an overly concerned white person.

          AFAICT most folks who are dramatizing these kinds of small errors in books, to the point where things get pulled, are 20-30 years old and work in or around the publishing industry in some way. Most of them live alone, most of them seem lonely. I’ve actually hypothesized that the more extreme folks of this type (which isn’t everyone! at all! lots of us have valid points that are made without hyperbole!) are not all that unlike the average dumb incel-adjacent guys, except they’re trying harder to be justice-oriented rather than self-oriented.

          And regardless, most of them are not any type of moms. Because, surprise surprise, still no one really listens to soccer moms, any though they do at least court their votes these days.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to Maribou says:

            I’ll grant the rest, but IME WSBMs make up the backbone of a lot of local political organizing and activism in the suburbs. . The years of vote courting created openings and some of them exploit those openings with exceptional energy and skill.Report

            • Avatar Maribou in reply to pillsy says:

              @pillsy I would be heartened to believe you.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Maribou says:

                Never doubt the ability of WBSM to leverage communication networks.

                Hell, even my mom, who was nowhere close to white bread or soccer, could leverage a landline telephone network to keep tabs on me across three counties.Report

              • Avatar Maribou in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                @oscar-gordon I don’t actually know all that many WBSMs and the ones I do know don’t seem particularly empowered. Your mom, being neither of those things, doesn’t particularly convince me of them being empowered…

                That said, it’d be nice to think they are becoming so, as the ones I have known have generally been very kind and quite strong in realms other than political/social power.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Maribou says:

                There may be some definitional slippage here, but the WBSMs I know tend to be professionals, relatively affluent, and benefit from quite stable lives. The “soccer mom” part provides a lot of reasons to get involved and invested in their community, providing both the motive and the means for political organization and activism.Report

              • Avatar Maribou in reply to pillsy says:

                @pillsy It may also be locational slippage. I mean, we live in two very different parts of the country.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to Maribou says:

            OK, I was thinking more about this because what else was I gonna on with a Wednesday night?

            And yes, the “20-30 year-old and socially isolated” profile is extremely plausible. That matches the people I know personally who identify (quasi-ironically) as “Social Justice Warriors”, and a lot of the reason I’m kinda skeptical about the Internet-mediated aspects of SJ activism and support is that a lot of them have had very bad experiences with those communities. The less isolated ones usually disconnect and find support elsewhere, but the more isolated ones seem to feel trapped at times.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      I think the big issue is that people only accuse the other tribe of virtue signalling. Or at least most people do. There would be a lot more weight to the virtue signalling charge if people self-examined with it.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Yes.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Yeah except I think if you do that a lot of the time the sting of the charge vanishes. Like, why shouldn’t I put an Obama Hillary Democrat TBD bumper sticker on my car? For that matter why shouldn’t my neighbor put a little Jesus fish on his?

        It’s fine. Even if it’s got a large component of showing one’s tribal affiliation it’s still fine.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to pillsy says:

          My car has all the usual liberal bumper stickers, including “Coexist”, “Imagine World Peace”, “I Luv my piercer”, and I think a buy local one. They ward off liberal vandalism so that I can park it near a college campus. Other conservatives think it’s hilarious.

          Is it virtue signalling? Of course it is, so as to allow me to safely park in progressive neighborhoods by exuding the proper pheromones, since sometimes they’re like xenophobic ant colonies.Report

  8. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    All this being said, the OP isn’t *wrong*. If someone is doing the thing that you want them to do, yelling “but they’re doing it for the wrong reasons” and attacking means they’ll…stop doing the thing you want them to do, which is generally considered bad.

    Thing is, as I’ve pointed out, that casts a lot wider net than people suggesting performative wokeness is merely mouthing dogma and doesn’t indicate genuine devotion to intersectionality. Like, this happened.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

      I think it’s a variant of “they shouldn’t be rewarded the way that I would be rewarded if I were doing that” (you see something similar when (bad thing) is done and how they should be punished for doing similar bad things to our bad things that we shouldn’t be punished for).

      It’s about Tribal Membership and who gets covered by the umbrella.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

        I’m willing to accept that people have darn good reasons for acting like they do.

        What bugs me is when they say that they don’t have darn good reasons but in fact they’re following the Objective Un-Debatable Rules Of Reality.

        Like, the Fox Mulder thing; the most dangerous people in the world aren’t the ones who think they’re doing the right thing, it’s the ones who think they’re doing the thing that fate has led them to do.Report

  9. Avatar pillsy says:

    @Mike Dwyer,

    Time to veer to the left!

    I’m thinking much more recently. The narrative from the Left has always been that Trump’s election was an expression of white fears. If white identity has been constant, how do you explain two terms for Obama?

    The first term was a crazy perfect storm for the Dem in the general (running with the brutally unpopular W in the WH while the economy was falling apart), and Obama was an unusually charismatic politician as well as an expert campaigner. The second term he didn’t quite do as well, but he was an incumbent, the fundamentals were decent, and Romney was a pretty mediocre challenger.

    Whatever you think about the justice of the “binders full of women” thing, it was pretty mild by the standards of political attacks yet people still think it wrecked Mitt’s chances. That does not, to me, suggest that he was a terribly strong candidate. Of course, I remember him from his MA Senate run days, when my politics were (though kind of inchoate) very close to the socially liberal New England Republicanism he espoused and I still thought Mitt “Some Assembly Required” Romney [1] was a no-hoper.

    It’s easy to explain things that are overdetermined. And you can be pretty racist without being only racist.

    That said, once Obama was elected (and even before) the racist backlash began almost immediately, and had a tendency to be exacerbated by even the most anodyne comments Obama made about race. And even St Mitt of Romney had to seek out the endorsement of perhaps the single most prominent avatars of that backlash: Donald Trump.

    How do you explain the recent increase in white nationalist groups?

    Finally, the same conditions that created a perfect storm for Obama in ’08 created a power vacuum in the GOP. The WN wing of the party had been marginalized during the Bush years, but the neocons and the Big Business types (the dominant factions under Bush) were discredited by the Iraq War and the ’08 crash respectively, and the SoCons were suffering their entirely deserved comeuppance for going all-in against gay rights.

    Of course, conservatives (the folks who make up the bulk of the GOP) have a tendency to place value on in-group loyalty and respect for (what they see as) legitimate authority.[2] This cuts both ways; in some circumstances it leads to the healthy respect for local community and “little platoons” that Mr Luther refers to in his piece. In other circumstances, it can lead them to fall in line behind incredibly awful leadership and stick up for fellow conservatives who really don’t deserve to be stuck up for.[3]

    That also made a hell of a tool for WN entryists, that they used in CPAC, in relatively high profile and respectable conservative media outlets, and most troublingly the Trump campaign and Administration.

    [1] I’m pretty sure I stole this joke from Mike Barnacle, which is only fair.

    [2] I’ll be you’re familiar with Jonathan Haidt, and in the unlikely event that you aren’t, I think you’d appreciate his work. Among other things, he offers probably the most cogent critique of the campus SJ Left, though I still think he gets a lot wrong.

    [3] Take that, stupid rule that says you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition!Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

      @pillsy

      I think most of your analysis is solid, but I think you are underselling the role of the SJL in increasing low-level white racism. Purely anecdotal but I hear far more comments that make me uncomfortable from suburban friends now than I ever heard 5 years ago, in the middle of the Obama administration. These are people that didn’t seem at all bothered by a black guy in the White House (several of them voted for him) yet I hear them saying frequently now that they are tired of being told they are bad people because they are white males. I absolutely believe that is the cumulative effect of identity politics (which were, BTW, absolutely encouraged by Obama – so he does bear some responsibility there).Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        I find it odd the degree that so much of the current right seeks to blame their own views on the left, instead of straight up owning their views.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to veronica d says:

          Questions of agency aside (though those tend to drive me up the wall, don’t get me wrong), it seems to raise the question of whether an increasing focus on social justice issues on the Left [1] might be a reaction to increasing tolerance of bigotry on the Right. In terms of basic causality it seems to be at least as plausible (since the racist backlash against Obama started almost immediately), and I can’t see why the mechanism wouldn’t work both ways.

          [1] Which TBF is something I believe is a real phenomenon, but a mostly good one.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        These are people that didn’t seem at all bothered by a black guy in the White House (several of them voted for him) yet I hear them saying frequently now that they are tired of being told they are bad people because they are white males.

        I certainly can’t speak to your friends in particular, but the “white males [1] are the only group you get away with attacking” has been a perennial refrain on the Right for at least as long as I’ve been aware of political rhetoric for the Right. As for why they changed I have no idea.

        Can I decisively rule out identity politics being more prominent on the Left?

        Well I suppose not. But there seem to be a lot of other potential explanations, including social desirability bias (and a shifting sense of whose approval they seek/need), and the “vice signaling” that Mr Luther’s article refers to.

        [1] Sometimes qualified as “straight” and/or “Christian”.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

          Part of those anecdotal conversations also have a lot to do with Leftward identity politics. I’m also hearing increasing more jokes along the lines of, “I’m going to do X because today I self-identify as X,Y,Z” Typically, when I hear people making not-politically-correct jokes like that I take it to mean they have internalized their exasperation and are expressing it via humor (my brother like to make bad jokes about Russian hacking). So, again, all of this is anecdotal but there’s also a whole lot of serious stuff being written these days (much of it published at your favorite site) about the problems with identity politics, much of it from liberals. Mark Lilla, who I referenced earlier, is a card-carrying liberal/Democrat and he wrote a whole book on the subject.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Typically when I hear people making “not-politically-correct” jokes I take it mean they consume far too much awful Rightward media and/or are testing the waters to see whether I’m “safe” for them to say (bluntly) grossly offensive things around.[1] This impression is strengthened the “I self-identify as…” tic, which is extremely prevalent in Rightward complaints about the SJ Left and extremely rare in actual SJ Left rhetoric.

            As for Lilla, I read some of his analysis in the early days following Trump’s election, and was pretty underwhelmed.

            But anyway I’m familiar with Lilla, but I’m familiar enough that I think his analysis is terrible.

            [1] I usually am safe, BTW, in part due to conflict aversion arising from getting the crap beaten out of me.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

              These aren’t the kinds of people that listen to a lot of Rightward media. Like I said, this is drifting into groups that typically don’t say stuff like this or aren’t even that engaged politically.

              Yeah, I think it’s probably pointless for me to reference anyone who (I think) makes well-reasoned critiques of the Left. You have made it pretty clear that you are going to find problems with all of them.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I think what you are seeing is a lot of people who don’t know how to articulate their real economic and societal fears but don’t take their inarticulatness to the extremes the Alt-Right does. They do have fears based on economic stagnation and salary degradation, as well as the advance of globalism which isn’t being addressed in American economic policies. They can’t comfortably grasp their own roles int his – especially in who they support politically, and they don’t have time in their days for nuanced political debate.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Philip H says:

                @phillip

                “I think what you are seeing is a lot of people who don’t know how to articulate their real economic and societal fears but don’t take their inarticulateness to the extremes the Alt-Right does. They do have fears based on economic stagnation and salary degradation, as well as the advance of globalism which isn’t being addressed in American economic policies.”

                With respect, this is some gobbledygook. These guys all have degrees, good jobs, no major worries. This isn’t fear of the future. They are just tired of being made to feel bad for being themselves.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Are they the type of people who listen to a lot of Leftward media…?

                Anyway, I’ve already cited one person who I believe makes well-reasoned critiques of the Left in this very comment thread.

                If you’re wondering why I react differently to Haidt (and this goes for other critics I take more seriously) they appear to actually try to engage with the SJ Left in ways that may actually lead to understanding.

                When Lilla first came to my attention (in the aftermath of Trump’s victory) he hadn’t done that even a little. In particular, he was very disparaging of the campaign against NC’s horrible HB-2, in ways that were both blithely dismissive of the incredibly legitimate objections that LGB and especially T folk had to the bill, and in ways that just got the political impact wrong.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to pillsy says:

                They..”feel bad about being white”??

                This may be “politically incorrect”, but as white person, let me say, EFF their feelings and as a card carrying male, suck it up snowflakes.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                @chip

                I think this probably applies on your end:

                “The idea that whites are permanently stained by their white privilege, gaining moral absolution only by eternally attesting to it, is the third wave’s version of original sin.”

                Most of the people attacking whites for their privilege are their fellow whites (you would be a good example of that). And it’s not that these people are fragile snowflakes, it’s that they are tired of walking on eggshells with a SJ Left that is unhinged.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                I’m not really wondering why you react differently. You’ve already made it clear that you think the entire IDW crowd are secret conservatives or full-on alt Right.Report

            • Avatar George Turner in reply to pillsy says:

              Pillsy, do you remember when all the good jokes were politically incorrect, edgy, transgressive, grossly offensive, and on SNL every weekend? I remember those days. Eddie Murphy has a hilarious stand-up show in San Francisco that can’t even be aired anymore.

              Remember when the left said crazy things just to shock people out of their complacency? I remember those days. It was a sea change from the 1950’s and prior, as edgier writers rebelled against massive societal pressure.

              It sold tickets and made lots of money, and thus the new norms became dominant in the media. And suddenly, as happens with many revolutions, after taking power the former revolutionaries try to squelch anyone pushing back against their victorious position, just like Dana Carvey’s church lady. They dare not be questioned or mocked, even though that’s how they rose to dominance in the first place.

              But as always throughout history, humor focuses on mocking those who need mocking, just as it did in the communist East Bloc, Aristocratic Great Britain (Monty Python unleashed waves of it), and even Nazi Germany, where they executed people for telling the wrong jokes.

              Historians glean a lot about what regular people really thought by looking at the jokes ordinary people told each other in private to make sure the authorities and social hall-monitors didn’t get wind of it.

              Without those, all that would remain is the dominant and official narrative of events, even if relatively few people bought the party line.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

                Well that’s why the secret police had to rip the fingernails out of prisoners.

                What with all the politically incorrect joking and mockery at their expense, the Party members got tired of feeling bad for being themselves and decided screw it, I know Stalin is a monster, but he really shows up those fancy pants elitist Mensheviks!Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to George Turner says:

                What if today’s “edgy” jokes are the one’s that mock insecure white dudes?

                I’m halfway serious with that question. In the past, the “edgy” jokes mocked a lot of people, but those that mocked gay and trans people were always wildly popular, but why? The same goes for racist humor. You can try and justify those things, but that reveals something about you.

                I tell edgy jokes all the time.

                A couple videos I like. The first is from Lindsay Ellis. It’s a commentary about how Mel Brooks’ humor can be viewed in a modern context. The second is Contrapoints.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62cPPSyoQkE

                Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to veronica d says:

                (I guess the forum code only knows how to embed one video.)Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to veronica d says:

                Also a lot of the edgy stuff SNL-era Eddie Murphy did was, you know, less about afflicting the comfortable and more about making extremely homophobic jokes.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to pillsy says:

                You can do edgy humor about anyone, but it has to be funny. Don Imus relied on racial stereotypes to lampoon people who actually embodied those stereotypes, like Mike Tyson or Adam Pac-Man Jones. The jokes were crude and racially-charged, but they pointed to something real. Where he got into trouble was referring to the almost all black Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos.” That might have worked as a joke if the Rutgers players, like Tyson or Jones, had done something to warrant the abuse, but they didn’t, so the joke amounted to shouting “N****r,” which isn’t funny.
                Recenly, I re-listened to Lenny Bruce’s “Thank You, Masked Man” routine, mainly because a local station has been running The Lone Ranger, which I used to love as a kid. Any dirty-minded 13-year-old boy — if that is not redundant — would (and did) come up with the idea that there was something going on between the Lone Ranger and Tonto, but Bruce’s routine really didn’t amount to much more than “The Masked Man’s a fag.” (verbatim) Audiences today want more than that, and rightly so.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to veronica d says:

                Another question to put on the list. The first link works, just doesn’t get the embedded player. I’m guessing a limit on comments, but will poke around.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to veronica d says:

                “What if today’s “edgy” jokes are the one’s that mock insecure white dudes?”

                Serious answer.

                Go nuts. They deserve it.

                I’m a white dude and I’m so secure with myself that it edgy humor was about secure white dudes, I wouldn’t care.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Dave says:

                “How secure is Dave?”

                “He’s so secure you can make fun of him for his security and it won’t even bother him.”

                Hmm. I think I need to workshop this one a bit more.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Fortunately our white male problems are about to end with 234 of 235 House Democrats cosponsoring the Equality Act!

        Congress.gov text

        Talk about virtue signalling.

        Anyway, section 1101 applies new definitions to titles II, III, IV, VI, VII, and IX of the Civil Rights Act.

        It’s the greatest gift to white males in the history of white males, who are now free to legally be anything they want, even if wait they claim obviously absurd, like being a black lesbian from Somalia.

        The only thing it lacks is a provision about age discrimination so we can self-identify as minors whenever we get arrested.

        I think everyone knows it will tremendously damage women’s competitive athletics under title IX (except for gymnastics and a few other sports), along with their athletic scholarships, but from a privileged male perspective, the hilarity is going to be worth it.

        I should contact Mitch McConnell and urge him to wave it through the Senate so we can all have a big dose of unintended but predictable consequences.Report

        • Avatar Dave in reply to George Turner says:

          “It’s the greatest gift to white males in the history of white males, who are now free to legally be anything they want, even if wait they claim obviously absurd, like being a black lesbian from Somalia.”

          Well, if it makes you feel better, I’m totally ok with you identifying any way you want, just so long as it’s not male because you are an embarrassment to my kind. I bet you don’t even lift too.

          Have some more cheese with your whine already and stop blathering about the issues with women’s sports. You and I both know you don’t give a shit about women unless they’re in service to one of your ideological proclivities. Let those of us that are adults and up to speed on the issues and without a political axe to grind handle this.Report

  10. Avatar pillsy says:

    @Jaybird,

    Taking a bold stand against indentation.

    …I meant *MY* theory.

    Ohhhhh. I guess that makes more sense. Though I really have known plenty of people who’ve copped to nerd trauma as a major influence, so.

    Anyway, I’ve sort of noticed a bit of internal tension in the way you approach arguments like this one, where the underlying issue involves some measure of culture warring over SJ issues. You really focus on a Mistake-oriented approach, including in this conversation, but you also do what looks to me like a lot pattern-matching on the form and tone of your interlocutors’ arguments. In this case:

    So when she does this stuff, again, I tend to remember when Bill did it… or when Sarah did it… or when I heard similar at Focus on the Family (did I tell you that I worked a janitorial job at Focus when I was around 20? I worked a janitorial job at Focus when I was around 20.) and so *I* am okay. At worst, I think “this shit again…”.

    Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this at all, since I think I’m on record as thinking the Conflict approach is often a valid one, but this really does strike me as Conflict-y [1]. In particular, if you are looking for a Mistake, I think you’re unlikely to find it this way, since the Mistake is (I’d think) axiomatically going to be in the content of the statements, not their superficial form.

    [1] Generally I see what Alexander calls “Conflict theory” and Jesse Singal calls “rightside norms” as an debate where people often want/need to make snap judgements, and one where the’s much more concern about false negatives (for someone being a time-waster or worse) than there is about false positives.Report

  11. Avatar Dave says:

    “The Conservative movement has always been, at least nominally, concerned with the state of moral messaging in our society, whether in media or popular culture. Instead, what most really mean when they deride virtue signaling is “I don’t think is worth defending.” That’s potentially fine. Maybe society has come to view certain things as virtues which are in fact vices, but moral messaging is best done forthrightly and discouraging discussion of virtue and condemnation of vice does more to undermine the maintenance of social virtue in general than it does to suggest changes to what society considers virtuous.”

    This is good.

    If you haven’t read any of the articles discussing post-modern conservatism written by Matt McManus, they are worth it and appropriate. If anything, this recent strain of reactionary conservatism borrows from left identitiarian politics, combines it with its own worst elements and created a monster.

    https://areomagazine.com/2018/07/22/the-decline-of-traditional-conservatism-and-the-rise-of-the-postmodern-conservative/Report

    • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Dave says:

      A fine article. What cultural conservatives too often overlook is that many of the developments that broke down traditions they mourn were the responsibility not of lefty ideologues or SJWs, but of conservative businessmen out to make a buck. Henry Ford, a string of motel owners, and Big Pharma probably did more to create a sexual revolution than Hugh Hefner.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to CJColucci says:

        It’s a good article.

        What cultural conservatives too often overlook is that many of the developments that broke down traditions they mourn were the responsibility not of lefty ideologues or SJWs, but of conservative businessmen out to make a buck.

        Oh, if I had to guess one reason that cultural conservatives are so anxious these days, I’d say it’s the (not entirely unjustified) belief that the businessfolk out to make a buck have less and less use for the cultural aspects of conservatism.Report

        • Avatar CJColucci in reply to pillsy says:

          They probably never did. I’ve been watching a lot of 1950’s-early 1960’s television lately and am appalled by the sexual morality on display. An awful lot of secretaries in tight sweaters and bullet bras living in apartments no secretary could afford on her secretarial salary, and other such Rat Pack/Mad Men corruption.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to CJColucci says:

        Maybe? A somewhat former OTer posted an essay from the National Review about how sexual libertarian doesn’t make people happy but religion gives people purpose. Is this true? Maybe to an extent but I pointed out that the National Review author would probably tsk tsk sincerely religious Daniel Berrigan burning draftfiles with homemade napalm in Catonville, Maryland. He was doing an act of religious purpose in his mind.

        But a lot of conservatives have still not come to grasp how much center-left voters hate, hate Donald Trump and are no longer willing to give Evangelicals any benefit of the doubt when it comes to morality. In the lead up to 2018, a lot of smart people were predicting Democrats would not do as well as they expected to. They thought the GOP would hold or gain seats in the House. I kept on saying that they did not understand how angry Democrats are art Trump, his supporters, and anti-anti Trump enablers. Several months into a 40 seat Democratic majority in the House and the incomprehension remains.Report

        • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Did Democrats understand or care how angry R’s were with Obama? Should they have cared?

          R’s picked up Senate seats, and several months later the incomprehension remains.Report

        • Matthew J. Luther Matthew J. Luther in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Saul, I think Trump supporters and anti-antis are well aware of how much [pretty much everyone who isn’t a Trump supporter or an anti-anti] hates Donald Trump. From what I understand, that’s one of his selling points for them. Also, aside from the delusional and cheer leaders, I don’t think the midterm results were any surprise, save perhaps for the gain in the Senate for R’s. I think many R’s, particularly anti-antis, realize what a liability he is for the brand and that a lot of them were hoping that they could get out of him what they wanted (e.g., judges, etc.) and that some externality (i.e., Mueller or what have you) would come along to relieve them of the problem and they could cut their losses. Since it now appears that won’t happen, they’re going to have to take their medicine at the ballot box.Report

          • They honestly don’t have a whole lot of reason to care that liberals don’t like him. A lot of them don’t respond that differently from one to the next. It might register is significant that everybody else seems to feel the same way. But as you say, they think that’s a plus. That’s where their head is right now. They also believe that they can afford it because enough people who don’t like him will vote for him anyway because the other side is the other side. Which is what happened last time. I’m not sure that’s a good bet, but then again I didn’t think that was a good bet last time and here we are.Report

            • Actually, I should qualify their first part. There are reasons to be concerned about how the other side feels about Trump in some respects. He really is causing an escalation in the braoder left’s attitudes towards breaking stuff. That element has always been there, and would be there for any R president, but Trump’s behavior (and that of the GOP more generally) has lead them to be more convincing to their more sober-minded counterparts. That part is a problem.

              There is just no way at all to get them to see that. They have convinced themselves that Obama had already dialed it up to 11.

              Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Will Truman says:

                What does the left want to break?Report

              • The court is probably the biggest. Seeing more calls to expand SCOTUS if they win. Seeing more people on the left sign on to the idea that its legitimacy should be discarded.

                This sort of thing hasn’t made its way up the chain and may not. But I’m hearing more of it now, and a lot of it I do believe is a response to Trump (and McConnell). It’s an area where antagonizing your enemy (even when there is always some antagonism involved) has consequences. It’s an area where the right should care about how much it’s pissing off the left.

                It’s not the only thing, but it’s the most wild and the most institutional breakage I’ve seen from people that didn’t advocate it in 2015.Report

              • Matthew J. Luther Matthew J. Luther in reply to Will Truman says:

                I must say I am the most concerned about court-packing. Once we go down that path we’re not really likely to come back from it. Of course after nuking the filibuster and after Kavanaugh we’re already heading there. If the Democrats respond in kind, it’ll be an arms race of norms violation and fundamental rule redefinition (more concretely than it already is) that will undermine the rule of law. We’ve violated so many institutional norms already, I worry that if we get into the habit of just buying the umpire every time an election turns over, we’ll be irreversibly on the course to a banana republic.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                The most commonly cited threats are:

                1. getting rid of the Electoral College, which of course we want to get rid of because it’s dumb;
                2. using the nuclear option, which we actually should do in order to help restore healthy norms of governance, which I may write a guest post about;
                3. court packing, which is absolutely playing with fire, but it’s playing with fire in a way that is more and more tempting for a variety of increasingly compelling reasons which, to be blunt, aren’t really being taken seriously enough by anybodyReport

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to pillsy says:

                Right, and it is useful to compare the list of stuff the left wants to break and the stuff that the right already breaking.

                The right is breaking the idea that the executive wields his power on behalf of all Americans. They like the idea that Trump holds power as his personal fiefdom, rewarding and punishing at will.

                By contrast, things like the Electoral College, number of SCOTUS justices and the filibuster are procedural norms, extraneous to the idea of democracy.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I find this line of argument terrifying, TBH, not because I’m sure it’s false, but because I’m afraid it’s true.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I think the disconnect is at least partially because the Left pays a lot more attention to the Executive that the rest of us do. Seems like Congress is mostly holding him in check. Did you see those construction crews on the Southern border? Yeah, me neither.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Did you see those construction crews on the Southern border?

                Come on man.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Maybe next time if you want to convince me, don’t cite a story about how Congress hasn’t appropriated money (with an update on Feb 12) to refute a story dated Feb 15 about how Trump has declared a national emergency to get money?

                I’m just spitballing here.Report

              • Avatar Mke Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                The point is, this has been his pet issue since Day 1 and nothing has been built. A bipartisan Congress delayed him for two years and he still only has a fraction of the money he needs. I would bet $100 that nothing significant will be built as of Election Day next November.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Congress is trying but for some strange reason they can’t see the Mueller report and can’t see Trump’s taxes even though the law seems clear that they can.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to greginak says:

                Understood, but the wheels of government move slowly.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to CJColucci says:

        I can’t remember if I’ve said this here or not. I know I’ve referenced it on my Facebook page, but what I think was more responsible for Trump and the right identity politics (in its worst manifestations white nationalism) wasn’t the SJ left but rather the combination of culture moving left and economics moving more right (neoliberalism, maybe).

        As much as I detest many if not of the ideas that are widely identified with the SJ left and have no qualms shredding people for defending that shit, in no way shape or form do I nor should anyone else think that it’s a greater threat than what’s on the Right. The right identity politics deals with a singular identity with a singular purpose and it has the means and desire to seek political power in a way that they SJ left can not. It’s not even close.

        Worse, seeing as I took the plunge into the cesspool known as Twitter. I am seeing a reaction of sorts to the SJ left, and it’s something I’ve titled the IDW Right (for that stupid ass title Intellectual Dark Web).

        It’s irritating enough to have what little of my intelligence I have left insulted by being told that people like Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin, Sam Harris are liberals, even classical liberals because all I see are people that have picked up large followings on the Right and pander to people like Kirk, Owens and other shitbags. Worse, the “heterodox” message they’re selling is a pile of vulgar rationalist bullshit.

        “Hey, look at those SJWs and their postmodern neomarxism! They don’t believe in anything. They don’t believe in objectivity, truth, reason, rationality and the other great principles of the West. They’re a bunch of nihilists, moral and ethical relativists down to the last one of them”. We’re not them. We believe in those principles of the West they hate.”

        While I’ve read articles on Quillette that I think are generally good and would recommend to people even here, what I’ve noticed is that in between their “objective and non-partisan points of view” are activist pieces that feed into this vulgar rationalism. Their editorials are a fucking shitshow. The articles that feed the machine on identity politics are awful to the point where as a critic of the SJ Left, I can’t get on board with them. There was one recently about a survey on the campus speech issue and it was the worst most biased and poorly written piece of trash I’ve seen in a long time.

        My own views on the SJ Left aside, at least until I scroll up and see what I have to deal with, I worry a LOT about this, especially in social media settings where it’s so easy to get caught up with people that are anti-Left and not liberal.

        There was a time where I paid very little attention to the left criticisms about enabling the Right. While I don’t like that framing, I’ll pay more attention to it if only because I want to be more careful because of some of the people so eager to own the libs can almost come across as liberals themselves, at least superficially. “The Left” isn’t my “enemy” as much as any kind of illiberal ideologies.

        For all I care, everyone can think that my criticisms of the Left are full of shit, but I’d rather people know that I’m looking all of this as broadly as I can and keeping an eye on all of the pieces in play.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Dave says:

          Quilette is a weird mix of people who are genuine trash and people who are not but have picked up the taint of Wrongthink and are not allowed to publish anywhere else.

          Like, the kind of people that pillsy thinks they can talk around to agreement; but because they’re asking questions that have an Obvious Right Answer And Therefore Don’t Need To Be Asked, they’re accused of desiring a different answer than the Obvious Right One–and since any other answer is Wrong and Bad, gee golly gosh what does that say about them?

          And then they end up at Quillette, which says “sure, ask those questions! Get the wrong answers! In fact, maybe the WRONG answers are the RIGHT ones!” Which isn’t right either, but at least it accepts that there’s a conversation to be had other than Shut Up And Suck My Truth.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to DensityDuck says:

            Like, the kind of people that pillsy thinks they can talk around to agreement; but because they’re asking questions that have an Obvious Right Answer And Therefore Don’t Need To Be Asked, they’re accused of desiring a different answer than the Obvious Right One–and since any other answer is Wrong and Bad, gee golly gosh what does that say about them?

            I have literally no idea what position you’re ascribing to me.

            I’m not joking. I cannot for the life of me parse this sentence.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to pillsy says:

              I guess you forgot all those posts where we said “pillsy, you’re talking to people who think this is a Conflict”, and you replied that no you were definitely certain that they were just making a mistake and you could totally talk them out of it?Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Dave says:

          @dave / densityduck

          I’m a fan of Quillette, but agreed that you have to find the gems between some crap. They publish too many pieces that are really just the author complaining about how they were treated by X and/or patting themselves on the back for challenging the SJ machine on campuses. With that said, the pieces that are good are REALLY good. The pieces that I like the most are the ones that take a step or two backwards and look at larger narratives.

          Regarding the IDW crowd, with which I loosely identify… I like Rubin because he has a lot of really interesting guests on his show. I like Rogan for the same reason. I sort of ignore them and focus on their guests, so I guess they get a pass from me as facilitating interesting conversations. I REALLY like the podcasts from Sam Harris and Tyler Cowen because they are also facilitating interesting conversations but they are a lot smarter than Rubin and Rogan so they can actually say interesting things back. I think Quillette’s podcast, hosted by Jonathon Kay is also good and so is Wrongspeak which is also associated with them. I also like Michelle Caroll’s ‘Exploring Minds’ YouTube channel.

          All of this is to say that i really just like to hear people smarter than me talking about interesting ideas. That so many of them want to talk about the regressive SJ Left is a product of our times. Because their concerns so nearly mirror my own, is a bonus.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Dave says:

      Wasn’t there a former OTer who described post-modern conservatism as being about the kind of person who wants to rap along with Tupac and then cut the welfare state to the bone the next day? Maybe within fifteen minutes of each other?

      Post-modern conservatism is driven by the fact that a lot of conservatives love modern pop culture but hate that a lot of it (maybe an overwhelming majority of it) expresses a kind of left viewpoint at least in terms of social tolerance. Maybe social policy. They don’t like “Christian” music or videogames because those suck (and they really do) but they can’t stand that lots of artists and the culture they produce are on the left.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        They want a world where Toons are onstage, but never in the audience.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Saul,

        Not sure but this isn’t that at all. It’s nothing I’d want to be a part of. It’s nothing I’d want anyone to be a part of. Take the worst that reactionary politics have to offer, add in a blatant disregard for things like facts and truths, turn up the grievance politics to 50 and there ya go.

        They engage in the same moral, ethical and epistemic relativism they accuse the Left of engaging in, only they can convince people they’re not doing it, which happens when it’s the official ideology of the shallow end of the gene pool. Oh, am I allowed to say that?Report

  12. Avatar pillsy says:

    @CJColucci:

    You can do edgy humor about anyone, but it has to be funny.

    I think that’s what it comes down to. And what people are going to find funny is also subject to change. Some stuff ages well, and other stuff doesn’t. Sometimes the reasons are essentially political and sometimes they aren’t.

    But I do think the fact that the same bold comedians who George describes as speaking truth to power (and sometimes they did!) also took a lot of cheap, lazy shots and people who were already on the receiving end of a lot of societal contempt really cuts the legs out from under his point.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

      In defense of Lenny Bruce:

      When Lenny Bruce was doing his schtick, homosexuality was seen as, at best, mental illness. (At worst, it was that thing talked about in Leviticus that deserved the death penalty.) In the Berkley concert (that I listened to a dozen times), Lenny Bruce looked at it and didn’t see it as either. He saw it as funny. “I’m amazed by any guy who can go into a public toilet and do anything but piss and leave. Guys who can wash their hands are amazing to me.”

      It provided a new frame. It wasn’t mental illness. It wasn’t a sin. It was funny. That’s it.

      I admit, (with the exception of Boogie In Your Butt) I’ve not listened to Delirious anywhere near recently (I listened to Lenny Bruce more than a decade ago and that was still more recent than my listening to Delirious). I’m sure it hasn’t aged well at all… but, from memory, wasn’t Eddie talking about his own Gay Panic rather than how homosexuality was either sinful or a mental disorder?

      Providing a third frame option for people is a good thing.

      Now, of course, we have dozens of options and, so, seeing homosexuality as funny is awful compared to the other options.

      But Lenny was giving a third option when there were pretty much only two. We’d progressed a little between Lenny Bruce and Eddie Murphy… but not a whole lot. Nowhere near as much as between Eddie Murphy and Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (which, again, is awful without the context of it being a new option in addition to the previous ones).

      The new frames are important.

      Heck, they might even be important now if you’re trying to deal with people who only have two that you don’t like.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

        I don’t remember Delirious well enough to say, but that’s certainly not how I’d describe his routine in Raw. (A lot of other parts of Raw hold up extremely well but euuuuggh definitely not that one.)

        As for Lenny Bruce, that’s a completely reasonable take (seriously) but… well, you’re explaining the joke. Having sympathy for Lenny Bruce is easy enough, but funny and sympathetic are different things.

        Sometimes I just want to be able to judge somebody’s comedy without necessarily extending the judgement to every aspect of their being, you know? And evaluate claims about whether they were just joking truth to power or considering whether that’s an oversimplification?

        Especially if the comedy is decades old, and they’re long dead (as with Bruce) or apologized a long time ago and no longer make those sorts of jokes (as with Murphy).Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

          I never saw Raw. I just remember Eddie Murphy telling homosexuals in the audience to not look at his butt and his fears of discovering that Mr. T was gay.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to pillsy says:

          I think the weirdest thing to me, in my lifetime, has been seeing “how DARE you make a JOKE about THAT” turn from a hard-far-right stereotype to a radical-progressive-left one.Report

          • Avatar Jesse in reply to DensityDuck says:

            Actually, there were probably plenty of people who were upset about the racist, sexist, and homophobic jokes that littered comedy for decades, but ya’ know, they didn’t have the platforms to call that out.

            All kinds of “jokes about THAT” have gone from acceptable to unacceptable in history.

            The actual weird thing is when people defend “jokes about THAT” that even the people who made the joke have said, “ya know, that was dumb.”Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jesse says:

              “All kinds of “jokes about THAT” have gone from acceptable to unacceptable in history.”

              Like what?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to DensityDuck says:

                AIUI, Victorian England was much more prudish in general, and much more averse to dirty jokes, than previous generations.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Charles Dickens wrote a letter to Mary Tyler, whomever that was, in which he said:

                “In my opinion the street Punch is one of those extravagant reliefs from the realities of life which would lose its hold upon the people if it were made moral and instructive.I regard it as quite harmless in its influence, and as an outrageous joke which no one in existence would think of regarding as an incentive to any kind of action or as a model for any kind of conduct. It is possible, I think, that one secret source of pleasure very generally derived from this performance…is the satisfaction the spectator feels in the circumstance that likenesses of men and women can be so knocked about, without any pain or suffering.”

                (There were, apparently, lively debates over Punch/Judy shows and CD was on the side of the Era’s version of the Alt-Right.)Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to pillsy says:

      Well, good comedy is hard or everybody would do stand up. There are all sorts of routines that fall flat or come across as simply mean or just moronic. Many comedians spend years trying to find a spiel and character that consistently win with an audience. Most are stuck doing small clubs, and many of the routines are don’t last. But some of them come up with something new and noteworthy.

      Vulture ran a great article a few years ago, with Youtube links

      The 100 Jokes that Shaped Modern Comedy, from 1906 to 2015.

      It’s great reading.Report

  13. Avatar pillsy says:

    Ok so, on the topic of the campus SJ Left and the badness (or not) of same:

    I think that sometimes, and not even all that infrequently, it crosses the line from vigorous protest to unequivocally bad illiberalism.

    This is a problem, but it’s by no means a new problem. It is, perhaps, inherent to our model of undergraduate education, which sends young adults to be trained at research institutions where their teachers have extremely broad license to say whatever the fuck they want.

    I like this model. I personally benefited from it immensely as an undergraduate.[1]

    And I think the model is mostly adequate. It mostly teaches people enough so that by the time they graduate they’re ready to deal, one way or another.

    If I’m wrong, I definitely want to know.

    But if I’m wrong, citing students doing the same kind of bad and dumb shit they did when I was an undergraduate 20 years ago isn’t really going to convince me.

    [1] To the extent that it had any political effect, I guess it left me with the belief that Mao was perhaps the most evil human being who has ever lived. Thanks, Intro to Chinese History. And I’m not being even a little ironic.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

      My professors also had broad license to say things. I went through a few years of super-liberalism as a result of them challenging my ideas. But we never behaved the way that kids are today, we didn’t try to deplatform, limit speech, etc. To the contrary, we wanted to hear from everyone.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Well I never behaved that way. Shit, I was the only Republican I knew.[1]

        Did people I know and was friendly with behave that way?

        Absolutely.

        I’m with Chip on this one. Actual respect for open exchange of ideas isn’t natural. It’s something that most people have to learn.

        [1] Was I actually a Republican? No! But the people around me were so far to the Left that I thought I was. And folks, my politics then weren’t that different from my politics now.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Somewhere there is a great essay by some sociologists on what might be going on with the current kids. They said there were about a dozen factors, but one of them was the changes we made post-Columbine. Instead of letting kids settle things like bullying among themselves, which in that incident led to a disastrous outcome, we told them all to tell an adult whenever they feel offended, marginalized, ignored, or emotionally threatened.

        We basically infantilized them by telling them that instead of thinking and problem solving, or just rolling along, go crying to an adult and the adult will bring hellfire down on the offender. The lesson is that nobody is allowed to offend them in any way, something we instituted so we don’t have more Columbines, without reflecting on the side-effects it would have later when they hit college.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

          Who is the “we” in that essay- where “we” infantilize kids, “we” tell them not to work it out, “we” do this, “we” do that…

          Isn’t it us, the adults and parents and teachers who are the active creators and molders of this new situation?

          So why is the scorn directed at “kids today”, instead of “what is wrong with us adults today”?

          Whenever I hear stuff like this, it is always some mysterious “they”, like kids are soft, but not my kid or your kid, but y’know, those kids out there somewhere.

          And parents are bad and neglectful or overprotective or whatever. Not me, of course, and not you my friend, but its those parents out there in Nowhereland who are just wrecking everything.Report

          • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            You are correct. I’m not blaming the children for what we did to them, even though I’m criticizing what we made them into.

            So I’m pretty sure “we” includes “us”. So far as I know, there was no adult push back on anti-bullying policies by any adult in the US, of any political stripe. The anti-bullying policies we unanimously adopted quite possibly had a very bad and unintended consequence that might require some corrections. That happens.

            So we might be at the point where we follow up on experiments or changes to make sure the outcomes are in line with predictions, and not creating new problems, and possibly coming up with better solutions or solutions to the specifically new problems created by the last change.

            Take smart phones, for example. Most adults didn’t see a problem with smart phones and many got sucked into a digital world that’s in part making them angry and miserable because they’re too connected. Most also gave smart phones to their kids, many of whom are developing the same or even worse problems.

            Finding someone at Apple to blame is pointless. So is trying to connect the problem to some old “ism” (Potential headline: “Blacks and women most affected by smart phone use”), even though that’s an easy story for a journalist to write. Concluding that the phones can’t be a real problem because there is no “ism” to blame is just staying in denial, putting off the investigation into characterizing the problem, who is at risk for it, and potential solutions to it.

            We dramatically alter society all the time, usually with unforeseen consequences. If people had truly known what the death rate from automobiles was going to be, we might have stayed with horses. Once we were committed to the change, we focused on putting up traffic lights and stop signs, setting speed limits, improving roads, building limited access highways, and instituting crash standards, seat belts, and airbags.

            Similarly, our anti-bullying policies might require some further work to ameliorate some unforeseen negative effects, one of which is the production of large numbers of angry college graduates who aren’t very good at fixing problems that are outside their narrow little boxes, which just makes the fixing more difficult.

            Undoing the anti bullying policy, overall, might be like abandoning cars and going back to horses The angry kids with smart phones are definitely making the bullying problem worse, yet those bullying problems did definitely predate smart phones.

            But we can’t give up, and we’ve been wrestling with the fundamental problem since long before recorded history. The problem, of course, is that kids are naturally little monsters and we have to parent the heck out of them to get them properly socialized and educated, and not all methods work on all kids.

            Education is littered with “It seemed like a great idea at the time!” I went through new math and open classrooms (almost the entire middle school was in one room that was almost the size of an arena), while others went through no-grading or some other type of new learning that was quickly abandoned. I’m sure we’re going through all kinds of iterative trial-and-error loops with teaching online and having kids staring at computer screens for much of the day.

            Anyway, living in a dynamically changing society means we have to stay on our toes and be dynamic ourselves, actively managing changes as new information becomes available.Report

        • You overestimate the impact of anti-bullying campaigns by a factor of approximately two million.Report

      • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        “But we never behaved the way that kids are today, …”

        Congratulations, having combined ‘kids these days…’ with ‘back in my day…’ you are officially an old geezer and may join the club of old geezers going back to Plato who said exactly the same thing.

        I don’t know where you went to college, but at the Big 10 school I went to in the 80s, all these things happened (except maybe deplatforming since the internet didn’t exist yet). The difference was that it was just as often from the kids on Right, especially the Moral Majority Right. (I still remember the wailing and outrage when the college was going to provide a showing of “The Last Temptation of Christ” – you would have thought they were going to literally crucify Christians on the quad).Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to bookdragon says:

          I went to a school notorious for its Leftward campus activism in the ’90s and the campus Left sometimes did stuff like that. Occasionally it rose to the level of “nuisance” but rarely even that.

          PCU was made in 1994.

          We had this culture war before. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills because no one else seems to act like this is a rerun.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy says:

            Hang on, let me get my horse beater….

            It’s not that it’s worse, it’s that the signal is boosted beyond reason. Even in my days, in the late 90’s, campus activity was at most, a local news item. Things didn’t hit the wider news circuits unless there was a riot, or other police response, or a lawsuit hit the federal courts.

            The real problem is not that college students are leftist authoritarian idiots, it’s that campus officials, afraid of bad press (now that the signal is boosted beyond reason), cave way too fast.Report

            • Avatar pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              Could be.

              Of course, my general inclination is that campus officials are authoritarian idiots regardless of their political stripe, and that portraying everything as a crisis about which Something Must Be Done is going to actually hurt far more in the long run by giving them more power and incentives to crack down on students and faculty.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy says:

                By cave, I mean that they let the students have whatever it is they are demanding. And yeah, if the students demand the campus exercise more power, they will be happy to do that as well.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Sure sometimes they do (and arrogate more power for themselves) and sometimes they stand up to Send a Message (and arrogate more power for themselves).

                I have Opinions about university administrators. I also fled academia as soon as I realized I could get a good job outside it.

                The two may just be related.Report

            • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              I think you’re right there. These things have always happened, but absence something really big and/or violent rarely rose to the notice of anyone outside the local community. Now every little grievance, whether from left or right, gets amplified unti it’s inflated like the Ghostbusters’ Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              “The real problem is not that college students are leftist authoritarian idiots, it’s that campus officials, afraid of bad press (now that the signal is boosted beyond reason), cave way too fast.”

              This. And it’s not just on campuses. The thing that concerns me the most if that so many decision-makers on campuses, companies, etc are terrified of bad publicity that they cave at the first sign of trouble, The Left has gotten very good at working this tendency to their advantage.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                … terrified of bad publicity that they cave at the first sign of trouble, The Left has gotten very good at working this tendency to their advantage.

                Sure, but let’s be honest here, whose fault is this? I mean, I am not impressed with the bullying tactics of certain parties on the left, but neither am I impressed with how quickly persons or organizations in positions of power cave to those bullying tactics when they are more than capable of standing up against them.

                Now, on a general principle, I wish they’d stand firm just because giving bullies what they want only encourages bullies to grab for more. Appeasement can never be a sustainable strategy.

                That said, the fact that they do cave so fast is one of those thinks that makes me go “Hrmmmm…”, and wonder which of the following is going on:

                1) They don’t have as much power as they want everyone to believe, and/or what they do have is built upon an unsteady foundation.
                2) They actually agree with the bullies, and were just waiting for a good excuse to move in that direction that gives them cover from other parties.
                3) They couldn’t care less about what the bullies want, but see capitulation as a way to secure more power/wealth to themselves.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                A lot of this would probably be better answered by Tod, since this is his area of expertise, but perhaps you are right. If a Culture of Capitulation exists, is it the fault of the ones doing the caving or the bullies that take advantage of it?

                I have a close family member with a borderline child. Borderlines are really, really good at making their parents feel like shit when those parents try to enforce boundaries or foster independence. My family member is unfortunately of the personality type that has a lot of anxiety over their parenting i.e. are they doing a good job or not? They are quite literally the worst personality type to be confronted with a borderline child and you can imagine how things go.

                With that said, it becomes a question of, is the parent the person to blame for being weak or is the borderline child the one to blame because their wiring tells them to take advantage of that weakness? Probably a little of both, right?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                That question assumes that 1) is what is going on. And in some places I am sure it is, but 2) & 3) are perfectly valid players as well.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I’m sure it’s all of the above, but regardless of motivations for caving, I think the bullies taking advantage of that also bear some responsibilities.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Oh, sure, bullies are bullies.

                But what is that saying, about good people doing nothing?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I do think it’s a little weird that the hallmark of Left-wing impotence (writing an angry letter) has become the hallmark of their overwhelming power.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                Social media has the potential to reach a whole lot more people than a Letter to the Editor for your local gazette, and I don’t have to impress the editor.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                This is true. I’m all for more care in signal boosting stuff for that reason but I’m even more for HR departments and the equivalents developing the smallest measure of spine and social media-savvy.Report

          • Avatar CJColucci in reply to pillsy says:

            Same thing for the late 60’s and early 70’s. But just as every generation convinces itself that it invented sex — despite the contrary evidence of their own existence and the occasional muffled sounds from the parental bedroom — every generation convinces itself that it uniquely speaks truth to power, even if it has odd ideas of where power actually lies, not to mention their odd ideas of truth. (I know enough of the history of this stuff to know that I was not the first to notice how certain kinds of activism were great ways to get laid. It worked for the college Communists of the 1930’s, it worked in my day — though not as well as I would have liked — and it works now.)Report

            • Avatar bookdragon in reply to CJColucci says:

              There was a joke on the engineering campus of my college that if you wanted to meet guys, join any engineering society. If you wanted to meet women, join SWE (society for women engineers).

              In fact, one guy took this to heart and became such an advocate for women in the field that he became VP of the SWE chapter. I don’t think he ever had any difficulty finding a date. 😉Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to bookdragon says:

                what a creep.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Who first said “every accusation is a confession?” The guy may have been a creep, or he could have been a genuine advocate for women in engineering, reaping the well-earned benefits of his advocacy, or he could have been a man of mixed motives, like most of us. I don’t pretend to know, but then I didn’t call him a creep.Report

              • Avatar bookdragon in reply to DensityDuck says:

                I didn’t know him well, but did meet him a couple times and he didn’t strike me as a creeper, or a poser. He was however rather more successful than most male engineers wrt the opposite sex.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to bookdragon says:

                He’s not a player, he just cantilevered a lot.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to bookdragon says:

                Hey, it’s not my definition. He inserted himself into a space intended for females, he obtained a position of leadership and authority, and he used it for sex. This is the Ally Guy situation, right out of the textbook.Report

              • Avatar Clement J. Colucci in reply to DensityDuck says:

                It is never a good idea to forget the Rule of Holes. Being a VP of the Society for Women Engineers, almost certainly because the women wanted him to be, doesn’t sound like the sort of powerful job you can leverage for sex.Report

              • Avatar bookdragon in reply to DensityDuck says:

                You’re reading a lot into it. I was one of the female engineers who belonged to SWE, though admittedly not a real active member. We were always perfectly happy to have men join. The society promoted women being in engineering, but it was never intended to be a ‘female space’ (esp in the 80s when that concept wasn’t a thing). We also voted for all officers, so he was elected by a majority in a 90% female group. But ‘position of authority’? You waaayyy over estimate how much anyone cared about engineering societies on campus.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to pillsy says:

      Young people are always easy targets for charges of illiberalism because they are almost always prone to illiberal behavior.

      Which is why they are prized recruits for armies and religions, since they seize an identity with cultish zeal, and will fight to the death for nearly any cause, or no cause.

      For every leftish illiberal college student I can find a dozen cruel frat boys, or frighteningly fascist boot camp graduates, or adolescent Torquemadas at a bible college.

      This is why the military doesn’t give senior command to raw recruits, and why the Democratic Party doesn’t elevate some angry college sophomore to national candidacy.Report

  14. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    “…and why the Democratic Party doesn’t elevate some angry college sophomore to national candidacy.”

    Clearly you haven’t been paying much attention to the campaigns of Booker, Warren and Harris. It reads like a wishlist for the SJ crowd.Report

  15. Avatar pillsy says:

    @Dave:

    Would I get the same “ok?” if I mentioned critical constructivist epistemology, critical pedagogy, critical race theory, postmodern feminism, and Foucault’s theories on power, knowledge, truth and discourse?

    You probably would have. I definitely agree that none of these things were essential to the civil rights struggles of the past (which largely predate them), and also think that they are, well, at best a mixed bag of ideas. Indeed, I think a lot of ideas (and approaches to debate) that are prevalent on the SJ Left are pretty bad, and even when they have a good idea they often have a tendency to ramp it up to Warp Factor 9 and slam headlong into the nearest wall.

    They kind of remind me of libertarians that way.

    There are two things that inspire me to be so anti-anti-SJW:

    1. So much of the complaints I see about them is debating whether they’re a threat or a menace, not about which, if any, of their ideas are actually good and make sense. Nor is there even much sociological interest, asking why these goofy kids are doing these goofy things.

    2. They’re my in-group. I’m gonna cop to the tribalism out front because frankly I think it makes a lot more sense than pretending I’m a dispassionate observer. I know quite a few of them, and agree with them about a lot of stuff, disagree with them about stuff, tend to see them as a moderately diverse bunch ideologically, and really don’t think they’re a bunch of cynical status and power-mongers.

    But something like standpoint epistemology? It’s one of those things where I think they started with a reasonable idea and pushed it past the breaking point. I’m suspect that it would actually make any sort of social justice activism literally impossible.

    On the other hand, I’ve also seen anti-SJ types use that strong-to-the-point-of-really-dumb form to deflect more reasonable criticisms, like, “You should pay attention to stuff members of a marginalized group write about their own experiences if you want to write about those experiences yourself.”

    Which is really just a slight generalization of the way scholarship and research work. I’ve certainly gotten much less reasonable complaints from reviewers about stuff that they think I should have cited but didn’t.

    We’ve been talking about Mottes and Baileys a lot these days, and I think I’d describe a lot of the discourse between pro- and anti-SJ Left types as each side having the other’s Motte as its Bailey (and vice versa).Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to pillsy says:

      There’s a new article up at the Federalist about Democrats which is pretty interesting.

      Now it is a very right wing source, so your tribalism might kick in (The Federalist’s comments section is a place that could probably cause lasting trauma to a Democrat, or oodles of entertaining counter trolling), but the article is pointing to polling data that indicates most Democrats are not quite with the woke folks. The byline is “Contra the conventional wisdom, moderates and conservatives still make up roughly half of Democratic voters, while only 19 to 25 percent consider themselves ‘very liberal.’”

      An excerpt:

      At The New York Times, resident propellerheads Nate Cohn and Kevin Quealy find that “[t]oday’s Democratic Party is increasingly perceived as dominated by its ‘woke’ left wing. But the views of Democrats on social media often bear little resemblance to those of the wider Democratic electorate.” They add: “The outspoken group of Democratic-leaning voters on social media is outnumbered, roughly 2 to 1, by the more moderate, more diverse and less educated group of Democrats who typically don’t post political content online.”

      Cohn and Quealy report that approximately a quarter of Democrats are progressive ideologues; only a tenth might identify as democratic socialists. “The rest of the party is easy to miss,” they write. “Not only is it less active on social media, but it is also under-represented in the well-educated, urban enclaves where journalists roam.”

      I think “propellerhead” is the only obvious snark, and the whole thing is worth reading, as it focuses on Democratic groups’ worries over a potential mismatch between online media presence, pundits, and politicians versus the bulk of the party’s rank and file, which can lead to a blown election.

      That happens to Republicans quite often, where it can be hard to discern the ground truth through all the noise, whether the Tea Party, some huge anti-abortion protest, or the growing groundswell of support for Jeb!.

      It also mentions that after the early primaries there’s a huge sweep through the South, where Biden might easily dominate. It could be that most of the Democrat candidates are running much too far to the left, all struggling to win over Bernie Bros, while leaving it wide open for Biden because other centrists didn’t jump in. It’s possible that they didn’t because they were misled by the all the activity and noise from the progressive wing, and so assumed that their base has dramatically shifted left when it only did so by a few percentage points.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to George Turner says:

        Yeah the article’s pretty good.

        I absolutely agree with the article’s contention that the picture you’ll get of the Democratic Party if you assume that it has the rough outlines of the Extremely Online Left is extremely misleading. I agree so absolutely that I sometime forget people actually do that.

        Heck one of the reasons I was so chagrined when @Maribou pointed out that Oscar and I were being unfair to WBSMs is that I know a bunch of them because I’m actually semi-involved with the local Dem party and they make up so much of it.

        And most of them are blessedly unaware of the various Extremely Online controversies, including the ones related to SJ issues. Doesn’t mean they’re necessarily moderate (but many are), but it does mean this stuff is barely in their infosphere.

        As for Biden… that’s one of the most likely outcomes.

        I think the more Leftward Dems underestimate his chances because of his long history of positions they hate [1] (I think most primary voters are going to discount stuff from the ’70s and even as late as the ’90s pretty heavily), but everybody else tends to overestimate his chances because they don’t really account for his established record of running absolute train wreck primary campaigns.

        [1] And not just them, to be clear.Report

    • Avatar Dave in reply to pillsy says:

      Pillsy,

      Good stuff…I’ll try to avoid running back and forth between motte and bailey. I’d like to think my views on it are pretty straightforward but that’s not completely up to me to decide.

      I think we both think online discourse on the subject is f–ked, perhaps irreparably. The amount of nonsense well exceeds the meaningful substance. Between the overreactions to the lack of understanding to the Chicken Littles to the cries of “alt right adjacent” etc etc etc

      I appreciate the fact that you brought up a mixed bag of ideas because I see good intention leading to bad ideas, some of that good intention being the focus on what liberalism hasn’t delivered. Still, the road to hell is paved with good intention.

      The biggest criticism I have of what constitutes modern identity politics, besides the fact that it reduces and centers politics around constructed group identities, is that it reduces politics down to power relations between groups, usually in the dominant/marginalized, oppressor/oppressed, where power is a zero-sum game. Unlike liberalism, where universal appeals to rights, equality, etc. justify and encourage inclusion, under these kinds of power relations, with an oppressor/oppressed framework, liberal inclusion isn’t a solution because by definition it can’t be. The power structures responsible for marginalizing certain identities need to be “dismantled”, and the oppression is by virtue of being included within the status quo.

      It’s also concerning because of the relationship between power and concepts of truth, knowledge, narratives and discourse – where all of these are either a function of or carried out in service of power. If communication of ideas is discourse done in the service of maintaining power and privilege and the discourse is targeted towards a marginalized group, it’s an act of violence (hence discursive violence).

      Standpoint epistemology is a great example of this because it was the second wave radical feminists that argued for it on the basis that “science” or positivist type epistemologies were created to service men in order to oppress women (I believe it was Catherine Mackinnon that’s made that claim but I’d have to check)

      Modern “anti-racism” discourse of the “woke” variety is not informed by liberal opposition to racism but rather critical race theory, which developed out of the field of critical legal studies and the attempts by critical race theorists to influence law were documented in Daniel Farber’s and Susanna Sherry’s “Beyond All Reason”.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_race_theory

      Critical race theory is also one of the key pillars of modern day aka intersectional feminism.

      We’re seeing the same people slam themselves into walls but I’m not sure if we have the same opinion why it’s happening. Hopefully the above explanation helps. My beef is ideological.

      Now to your two excellent points:

      1. I loathe to use the term threat or even menace because I not only agree with your concern but have a few of my own. It’s not the debate of whether they’re a menace but the true belief that they are, and maybe I shouldn’t be surprised by this, but I’m finding some of the more vocal opposition coming from liberal athiests that compare SJ to faith and faith-based activism. There are also those that take the crude caricature of the SJW as the hater of all things Enlightenment and believe they’re opposing them on those principles, only their really at best vulgar rationalists not dissimilar to the kinds of righties we’ve both had to deal with.

      I think they can be irritating and cause problems. I think the online performativity is useless. I think that the SJ crowd being younger is clashing with people in my generation and older. I see at least three or four stories a day about people that don’t feel like they fit in on the D side and switched. I say this as an observation and not as a means to judge.

      Also, I think there’s more that becoming mainstream, but I’m also cognizant that there’s a still a wide gap between online and real world, and in the latter, I don’t encounter.

      2. They’re not my tribe. They won’t be my tribe. I will never let them be. By that, I’m talking about those that hold the views I described above (plus others I linked to re: constructivist epistemology).

      I need to be careful here…ideologically speaking, given the current power relations (oppressed/oppressor) with things like white and men being those in power and race being central to both anti-racism and intersectionalism, the logic of the ideology is such antisemitism is not a bug but a logical conclusion. I watched the mess unfold with the Women’s March with Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour. I was disgusted with the way people circled the wagons around them and the bullshit that was used to justify their bigotry. I recall one of their “allies”, a Jewish woman write a series of tweets that basically told Jewish women to shut up. I may have the tweet link in a draft post somewhere. Anyway, Derrick Bell’s Space Traders is quite the gem for that kind of nasty shit too.

      I’m’ not saying your group is like that, and I know it’s not. If you chose to call yourself a social justice warrior, I would tell you you’re not the kind I have any quarrels with. To the extent I have a “tribe”, it’s a small group of more centrist liberals, some even more towards the progressive end, that support social justice causes but could be called anti-SJ.

      I think some of the worst criticism from the anti-SJ left risks being equally dogmatic, except they’re arguing against SJ but being for universal liberalism, and it comes off dogmatic because they appeal to the self evident nature of liberalism’s track record, which does come off a bit like traditional conservatism (going with what we know).

      I hope this covers all of it and I”m trying to keep it all in the open. Sorry for the delay.Report

  16. Tracy Downey Tracy Downey says:

    Matt!

    “Nevertheless, a veritable cottage industry has sprung up around the purveyance of such messaging, offering vice signalers the possibility of a devoted following as a media figure, and even, when they take to the campaign trail, the chance to occupy our nation’s highest offices.”

    This is fantastic, and so true. Attacking virtue is now a business for propagandists, determined to shape a hardcore line that nearly shames decency, logic, and Burkean point of view. The center is mocked for pointing out the indecent behavior in politics. Those with a conscience do not like being reminded of wrong…they’d rather mock the messaging.Report

  17. Avatar pillsy says:

    @Koz and others,

    Yes, you’ve made it very clear you are perfectly happy to work with white nationalists to advance your mutual goals, which, weirdly enough, you have a lot of, if it lets you keep immigrants out of the country and/or own the libs.

    And.your fellow OT Rightwards wonder why I believe the US Right is giving aid and comfort to the worst elements in American life. You’ve sold your soul along with everybody else who covers for Trump to get what they want, and we are supposed to pretend otherwise for the sake of some sort of bullshit civility and “discourse”. They think you’re beneath notice despite the fact that your ilk are running the country.

    Sorry, nope. One of the biggest contributors to the mess we’re in is the demands of “sensible” and “moderate” and “apolitical” types for the Left to engage in supererogatory behavior while the likes of you get endless free passes when you decide to lick the nearest jackboot clean.

    And then they turn around and accuse us of virtue signaling.

    Clearly I can’t win with them, and I see no point in trying any more.

    If Will or some other moderator choses to ban or suspend me for this, I won’t entirely blame them, and my disappointment will be somewhat mitigated by the fact that I’ll at least no longer be associating with a community that believes you are an acceptable part of it.Report

    • Avatar Koz in reply to pillsy says:

      @Koz and others,

      To be honest, it took me a minute or two to make out of your comment. I know the supererogatory thing is something that you care a lot about but I’m just not buying it.

      From here, it looks like you (and other libs) have illegitimite expectations regarding what you have control of, or ought to have control of. And when those expectations aren’t fulfilled, instead of taking responsibility for recalibrating your own expectations, you’re blaming other people for things they are not at fault for.

      And ancillary to that, you make convenient mistakes or distortions to justify the antagonism. Just in your comment, I can say for my own part that I’m not supporting Trump, and I don’t believe in “own the libs”-style conservatism.

      At this point, the best thing is to forsake the idea that it’s any kind of supererogatory to simply play it straight, and let the cards fall where they do.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Koz says:

        …I can say for my own part that I’m not supporting Trump, …

        No, you just valiantly defend him from every aspersion while turning it back on the “libs” (who, you assure us, you do not wish to own, just tiresomely psychoanalyze).

        The primary mode of partisan conservatives following Trump, at least among the ones who have the minimal sense to realize that Trump isn’t actually the American Solomon, is anti-anti-Trumpism. And that’s exactly what you do every damn time.

        Maybe you’ve even fooled yourself about what you are, but you sure as hell haven’t fooled me.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

          @pillsy

          Few things, take them for what you will…

          This site is basically a chatboard. Quite a few of the commenters, including you, use aliases. I have long maintained, and this isn’t an original theory, that most people are playing a part when they participate. And a lot of us, me included, find ourselves taking contrary positions to stimulate conversation, even when we really aren’t that passionate about the issue.

          I’m sure I have some partisan blinders on to some of this, but at least on this site I rarely ever see anyone vigorously defending Trump. And I say that as someone that found a public computer to logon to a different chatboard to gloat about Bush’s win over Kerry in 2004 while I was on my honeymoon. I just don’t see anything remotely like that here. Yeah, sometimes people are going to appear to support Trump simply to stimulate conversation or because they are on Team Red, but I would urge you to take a deep breath in those moments.

          Last thing, this is an internet debate. It’s not real life. Someone taking a position you find outrageous should not get you so cranked up. I’d bet my next paycheck that most of the time the position you are losing your shit over is just something they are doing because they can’t fall asleep on a Thursday night or they would rather trade barbs instead of finishing the TPS report at work.

          P.S. Just because we are to the right of you and don’t join in the daily bashing of the President doesn’t mean we endorse him. If that’s your standard, there’s really not much room for conversation.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            I’m sure I have some partisan blinders on to some of this, but at least on this site I rarely ever see anyone vigorously defending Trump.

            Yes, entirely consistent with my observation here:

            The primary mode of partisan conservatives following Trump, at least among the ones who have the minimal sense to realize that Trump isn’t actually the American Solomon, is anti-anti-Trumpism.

            It’s possible my attitude is wrong for this board. As much as I like most of you (and yes that does include you, Mike) despite sometimes finding you kind of frustrating, certain kinds of acts, if that what they are, I find sufficiently contemptible that as soon as they crop up all the fun drains out of it.

            That includes Koz’s. just like it included notme’s and dand’s. Thankfully they last two are gone now.

            So the board’s not much fun, my Saturday plans fell though, I had a very annoying week, and even my back up plan to work didn’t pan out because I don’t have the code I need.

            So sure, I’m gonna lash out at the guy who, even if he isn’t the cause of my irritation, sure as shit deserves to be the target of it.

            Because if the norms include behavior like his (like, you know, unapologetically and unabashedly citing contemporary white nationalists) I think they can tolerate behavior like mine.

            If I’m wrong I’m wrong. But the stakes are low because, like I said, fun drained.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

              I wasn’t familiar with the previous conversation so I went back through it. I have to say, this is the kind of censorship I am not a fan of. I could cite hundreds of people, alive and dead, that had troublesome views and agendas, but still should be heard. You can go on Amazon right now and buy Mein Kampf for $15. There’s also historical figures like Teddy Roosevelt, one of my heroes, who did so much good and yet had problematic views on race. If I reference a text from Jefferson I would hope that I would not get a note from the moderators requesting ‘a lot of caveats and disavowals’ even though one would think that slave ownership is worse than white nationalism.

              If Koz was/is straight up advocating white nationalism then call him on it, but it seems like he thinks that book made some valid points about immigration. Wouldn’t actually rebutting those points be way more interesting? One wonders how some of the great pieces of legislation in our history were ever enacted when today people are so scared to confront ideas that make them uncomfortable. I can’t imagine how abolition or the women’s right to vote were ever achieved when today we would simply deplatform or ban the person advocating ideas we didn’t like, not debate them in Congress or in a pub.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                So I’m going to ask you a non-rhetorical question:

                Do you think the example of Jefferson is in any way equivalent?

                I don’t. Why?

                Because any person reasonably aware of who Jefferson is will know who he is, know he owned slaves, understand despite that fact that he played an immense role in the creation of our country, and can bring a lot of context to the question.

                As for Mein Kampf I’m pretty sure that anybody coming to OT and saying, “Hey guys look at this neat book!” would be banned the second a mod saw the post.

                Again, there’s that universal context.

                Brimelow is (a) not a historical figure and (b) has a pretty long record of actually insinuating himself into more mainstream parts of the Right to advance white nationalism.

                That makes adding the context, or reacting in a remotely appropriate way, more important.

                Wouldn’t actually rebutting those points be way more interesting?

                Maybe, but I’m not going to be interested in a conversation with someone who I don’t trust and don’t like because I believe they’re a white nationalist trying to be subtle about it.

                Nor would I have much interest in sitting with them in a pub, for that matter, to talk about anything at all.

                I’ve done enough that sort of thing in my life, to be blunt. It’s not fun or interesting, it’s either gross and annoying or actually anxiety provoking because I worry that they’re a mean drunk and might take a swing at me.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to pillsy says:

                The reason I reject out of hand the whole “let’s speak calmly and reasonably with Trumpists and perhaps find a compromise” is that we aren’t talking about subjective opinons about which reasonable people can disagree.

                He mocked that disabled reporter and they all laughed.
                Am I being narrowminded for considering this disgusting, and anyone who laughed deplorable?

                He talked about sexually assaulting women, and his supporters shrugged.
                Am I being priggish for saying this shouldn’t be tolerated in society?

                These aren’t abstract ideas. These are just basic ground rules of civilized societies, that are pretty much universal. If you can’t respect these rules, then you have no place in any civil society, much less as its head.

                So I am bewildered, really, by the constant appeals to tolerance and broadmindedness towards Trumpists, and its outrageous that they posture themselves as victims when their awful behavior is pointed out.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                @chip

                I was talking more broadly about Opinions That Make Us Uncomfortable and less about Trumpists.

                I’m also curious how you handled people that said gross things about SSM ten years ago? Did you just dismiss them as ignorant heathens or did you engage with them?

                I’m going to keep making this point but I think this is the big problem with all you folks that trade on the far ends of the political spectrum. You don’t believe people’s minds can be changed. It’s unfortunate because once upon a time I was pretty close to being Far Right and a lot of patient centrists and moderate liberals pulled me back towards the middle. It’s unfortunate more people aren’t up to that task today.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                You keep making what point, that Trumpists have one set of moral values, and the rest of us have another, like the difference between SSM and conservative religions?

                That is exactly what I reject.
                Are Trumpists seriously proposing a moral norm where we walk down the street and mock disabled people? That men should walk into dressing rooms and start groping women?

                Like, this is some newfangled religion that we need to engage with patiently?

                Trump’s entire premise, his entire power base, is built on explicit violation of the most fundamental moral precepts of humanity, that the powerful should care for the powerless.

                How is it that my finding this repellent places me on the far end of the political spectrum?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                @chip

                <e."You keep making what point, that Trumpists have one set of moral values, and the rest of us have another, like the difference between SSM and conservative religions?"

                Jesus Christ you have a one track mind. Let me try one last time: I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT TRUMPISTS. Take him away and this would still be happening. Whoever the GOP nominee was going to be, I think we all know it was going to look pretty similar. The person may have been more competent and less populist, but it’s not like you all would have complimented for a job well done.

                At some point you are going to have to own your unwillingness to engage in dialogue with people you disagree with.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Chip: Am I being priggish for saying this shouldn’t be tolerated in society? These aren’t abstract ideas. These are just basic ground rules of civilized societies, that are pretty much universal. If you can’t respect these rules, then you have no place in any civil society, much less as its head.

                Chip, what happens to the various GOP paragons of virtue? Does their ethics and behavior prevent them from being called monsters by the Dems? No?

                Romney and Kavanaugh are auto-magically monsters because they’re in the way. HRC gets to walk around hand in hand with Harvey and it’s not a problem.

                Trump is pointing out that it doesn’t matter. He’s going to be a monster no matter what he does, so the amount of effort he puts into making you happy is zero.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                That logic doesn’t hold up even if its absurd premises were granted.

                A. Someone somewhere will misrepresent me if I behave honorably.

                B.Therefore it is morally acceptable to behave dishonorably.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                @chip

                Kavanaugh is a good example. The first day we heard about Ford’s allegations people were saying they believed her. WTF is that? Clairvoyance? And then after a kangaroo court of politicians finished their spectacle, he lost his shit on TV. And you know what the response was from the Left? “See, I told you he was one of those kind of men.”

                I don’t endorse any of Trump’s behavior but DarkMatter is right. Even if Trump had been the second-coming of [insert your favorite conservative here] I don’t think he would have gotten any less anger directed at him. I was paying attention during the Bush years. This isn’t new territory for you all.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Chip,

                Some of the things you’re pointing to here is Trump being a vulgar ass. Everyone knows that, he’s been very open about that. However that has nothing to do with anything, especially not “honor”.

                The definition of “honor” the Left uses is “Is a Democrat”. HRC is honorable and ergo her relationship with Harvey gets a handwave. Romney and Kavanaugh, by definition, can’t be honorable because they’re not Democrats. Any wacky story can be put out there and it’s supposed to be believed because they’re monsters.

                And you’re still screaming wolf. What you’re saying is “White Nationalism, the Nazis are coming”, when translated into English that means “The Democrats lost an election! Oh and the GOP stole the Dem’s xenophobia plank from the 1980’s.”Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                @pillsy

                I’m not asking you to talk to Brimelow. I’m also not suggesting you shouldn’t educate the rest of us about why he is problematic. But I’m also asking you to talk to Koz and address the substance of his comments, not dismiss them out-of-hand because you don’t like the source.

                She is not a white nationalist but I truly believe HRC is a horrible, horrible person at least as bad as Trump. I don’t think Bernie is a bad person, but I do think his ideas are terrible. And of course, I think Trump is also a trainwreck. But in 2016 I engaged with lots of their supporters on the substance of their positions, because it just seemed like the civil thing to do. All I hear from the Left on this site these days is a bunch of reasons why you all don;t want to engage with people you don’t like, but then you actually do sort of engage with them to tell them why they are terrible. It seems very unproductive.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to pillsy says:

                Maybe, but I’m not going to be interested in a conversation with someone who I don’t trust and don’t like because I believe they’re a white nationalist trying to be subtle about it.

                For me, this reads like something from a person who flunked kindergarten. You do realize, I hope, that your obligations to be decent to other people extend past those who you like or trust?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Koz says:

                @Koz,

                You do realize, I hope, that your obligations to be decent to other people extend past those who you like or trust?

                Given the way you talk about both immigrants and “libs”, you obviously don’t feel bound by such obligations.

                So I don’t see why I should treat you any better, fuckface.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                If Koz was/is straight up advocating white nationalism then call him on it, but it seems like he thinks that book made some valid points about immigration.

                “some valid points” is understating the matter quite a bit. Peter Brimelow was The Guy on immigration for the Right in the 90s (him and George Borjas, who I think was and is a Harvard professor, therefore geekier and more respectable).

                I knew at the time I wrote that other comment that is, politically speaking, grossly unacceptable for large parts of the Left. I suppose I would find something to say about that if I had to, but for my purposes it’s unimportant.

                What is important is that immigration into America since the 1965 Immigration Act is fundamentally different than the immigration before. To a substantial extent, what libs think about immigration now is what the Right thought about immigration in 1984 (certainly that applies to me).

                Wouldn’t actually rebutting those points be way more interesting?

                You’re giving Pill way too much credit here. Pill couldn’t rebut anything meaningful from Peter Brimelow if his life depended on it. Luckily for him, he doesn’t have to, he can just say “white nationalism” and spare the effort.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Koz says:

                Let’s wrap this subthread up, guys.Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to pillsy says:

              As much as I like most of you (and yes that does include you, Mike) despite sometimes finding you kind of frustrating, certain kinds of acts, if that what they are, I find sufficiently contemptible that as soon as they crop up all the fun drains out of it.

              That includes Koz’s. just like it included notme’s and dand’s. Thankfully they last two are gone now.

              …….

              So sure, I’m gonna lash out at the guy who, even if he isn’t the cause of my irritation, sure as shit deserves to be the target of it.

              Because if the norms include behavior like his (like, you know, unapologetically and unabashedly citing contemporary white nationalists) I think they can tolerate behavior like mine.

              Yeah, this is bullshit. I’ve been here, off and on, for the better part of ten years. One thing I’m not is evasive or coy.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to pillsy says:

          No, you just valiantly defend him from every aspersion while turning it back on the “libs” (who, you assure us, you do not wish to own, just tiresomely psychoanalyze).

          The psychoanalyze thing is an offshoot. The main thing intention is to engage libs to the point where they could possibly improve themselves, and by extension, us.

          The primary mode of partisan conservatives following Trump, at least among the ones who have the minimal sense to realize that Trump isn’t actually the American Solomon, is anti-anti-Trumpism. And that’s exactly what you do every damn time.

          Yeah, mostly. The problem isn’t really Trump (and for that matter I’ve been thinking of ways of getting rid of Trump since before he was inaugurated). There’s bad things that are associated with him, but in the big-ticket sense, America has serious problems that Trump has to try to handle, for better or ill. The real problem is libs. If we had a better class of libs, we could try to rebuild our stores of social solidarity, while at the same time fighting separate corners over policy.

          For example, it is widely known among conservatives (and I think among libs too, I’m not sure), that the social structure of basically the entire Western Hemisphere south of the United States is governed by white supremacy. I’m talking from like from Juarez to Brazil.

          For us, it is absurd to talk about, say, Pat Buchanan as a white supremacist, while at the same time bringing in white supremacists by the tens of thousands from Honduras and Mexico. We are substantially dismayed at the libs’ insistence on bringing them in. In any event, reasons like this are why a lot of conservatives who didn’t support Trump in the primaries aren’t on the warpath against him now.

          Push comes to shove, Trump isn’t the problem. Libs are the problem.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Koz says:

            @koz

            “For example, it is widely known among conservatives (and I think among libs too, I’m not sure), that the social structure of basically the entire Western Hemisphere south of the United States is governed by white supremacy. I’m talking from like from Juarez to Brazil.”

            You can put me in the group of people that do NOT understand that talking point. I’d appreciate if you gave me the cliffnotes version so I can get up to speed.Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              Ok. Basically, whereas race relations in the United States have been governed by the one-drop rule (any part black ancestry makes you all black) Latin America has the opposite. Anything other than purebred black isn’t necessarily white but it is “not-black.” Those cultures have a bunch of intermediate classifications like mestizo and indio, etc, to describe how white you are.

              And here’s the thing: in those places, whiter is almost always better. The whole cachet of black in America, things like NBA stars, Harvard Law scholarships, hip-hop/pop stars, doesn’t exist south of the Rio Grande.

              So no one wants to present themselves as black, or simpatico to blackness if they can avoid it. In that context, blackness is simply associated with poverty and manual labor. It is a significant part of many people’s social aspirations to avoid that if they possibly can. And the social structure of those places is built on that (among other things of course).Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Koz says:

                That’s an interesting bit of info there. I would disagree with it being a problem for immigration though. It reminds me a lot of the intentional patriotic signaling that took place among immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of them went out of their way to demonstrate their Americaness. I could easily see them arriving here with the dynamics you describe and then realizing pretty quickly that the real separation facing them is the difference between Americans and Non Americans and shifting their efforts to make sure they are considered in the first group.

                Of course, if we continue to focus on border security, we are also subverting the natural assimilation process and ensuring these people continue to think of themselves as migrants. I wrote about that here:

                https://ordinary-times.com/2018/11/02/how-border-enforcement-fails/Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                That’s an interesting bit of info there. I would disagree with it being a problem for immigration though.

                That could be. We might make some remotely educated guesses, but I don’t think anybody has any real clarity on how that is going to turn out. What is clear, imo, is the disconnect between the gnat-straining of “white supremacy” in America combined with the influx of Latin American immigration.

                It reminds me a lot of the intentional patriotic signaling that took place among immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of them went out of their way to demonstrate their Americaness.

                I don’t agree with this at all, not in this world of near-civil-war cultural conflict. I’m not talking about conflict between the natives and the immigrants btw, but between Americans of the sort you’ve been complaining about to Chip and Pill.

                Basically, immigration is a weapon our adversaries are using against the whole concept of assimilation, against us. If immigrants started assimilating like Peter Brimelow and John Derbyshire, Pill would be singing a much different tune in a heartbeat.

                Of course, if we continue to focus on border security, we are also subverting the natural assimilation process and ensuring these people continue to think of themselves as migrants. I wrote about that here:

                I read that, and I don’t think I necessarily disagree with any of it, but I do think it’s too dated to be directly relevant. Among other things, the proliferation of cell phones and other technology changes the character of migration substantially since the 70s. You can see that with the Middle-East/North African migrations into Europe and the Central American migrations through Mexico into the USA.

                I do agree with you that a lot of Mexicans working in America still think of themselves as Mexican and would or will return home depending on circumstances.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Koz says:

                I hadn’t thought about technology delaying the assimilation process, but that’s an interesting point. My anecdotal experience is that immigrants from pretty much anywhere other than south of our border start assimilating pretty quickly. It’s that whole idea of ‘getting on a boat and not coming back’. They embrace their new life. (Sidebar: I was shocked in 2016 when all of my employees from Africa told me they thought he would stop illegal immigration). Again, anecdotally, our employees from Latin America and Cuba still seem to have one foot in their home country, even if they are going through the citizenship process. I had one Cuban employee that has been here close to 40 years and she plans to move back to Cuba when she retires. I’m not sure how much of that is cultural and how much is geographic proximity, but it’s an interesting dynamic that complicates the narrative.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                *edit clock ran out – Should read I was shocked in 2016 when all of my employees from Africa told me they were voting for Trump because they thought he would stop illegal immigration.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I hadn’t thought about technology delaying the assimilation process, but that’s an interesting point.

                Yeah, that’s part of it, along the lines of your comment.

                Probably more important than that, there’s also the idea that the proliferation of cheap cellphones are also a tremendous logistical catalyst to the migration process itself.

                The difference in standard of living between the First World and the Third World has been pretty stark for maybe the better part of 100 years. But now there’s exponentially more information, credible information, available to even the most benighted would-be migrants.

                Caravans of 10000 Hondurans walking through Mexico to the US would not have been feasible maybe 10 years ago, 15 for sure.Report

              • Anecdotes are not data, but… 20 years ago the giant cable company I worked for ran a bunch of customer interviews with immigrant households in East LA. Almost to a household, the package they told us they wanted to buy was a Spanish-language news channel from whichever country they had immigrated from, Spanish-language entertainment for grownups, but only English-language cartoon and music channels. They were clearly determined that the kids grow up fluent in English.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Hispanic immigrants follow the same lingual path as all other immigrants throughout American history.

                The first generation speaks little English. Their children are fluently bilingual. Their grandchildren speak only English.

                We’ve done this dance before. Today is not different than yesterday on this topic.

                Sadly, the useful of an ‘other’ to demonize and blame and rally the faithful remains just as useful today as yesterday.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Michael Cain says:

                That’s a pretty interesting unplanned study and it makes complete sense.Report

              • …our employees from Latin America and Cuba still seem to have one foot in their home country, even if they are going through the citizenship process.

                A hundred years ago, large parts of the western Midwest had newspapers in the language of the local immigrant community, often running stories from “the Old Country.” Sometimes it was the only paper in the county. It wasn’t until WWII that the practice finally died off.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Michael Cain says:

                True… My dad grew up in an area called Germantown (his mother was German-American) and his father was an Irish-American kid from a neighborhood called Limerick. My family came over in the 1840s and 1850s so i don’t know how long they maintained their attachments to the old country but I know that German and Irish cultural practices (religion, language, music, styles of beer) were still going strong well into the 1930s.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Koz says:

                If immigrants started assimilating like Peter Brimelow and John Derbyshire,

                I’d be calling for mass deportations immediately.Report

  18. Avatar pillsy says:

    @Mike:

    But I’m also asking you to talk to Koz and address the substance of his comments, not dismiss them out-of-hand because you don’t like the source.

    Why would I do that?

    You analogized this place to an informal environment like a pub, and pointed out that this is a recreational activity for the participants. It’s true. I’m not getting paid for this, and I don’t think it’s actually a useful means of effecting political change [1].

    So the idea of sitting down and shooting the shit with someone I detest sounds… bad. Not enjoyable. Not relaxing or even terribly interesting. Nor does ignoring their garbage contributions, for that matter.[2] That also sounds a bit like work.

    But if we’re blowing off steam here, sure, I can blow off steam. Why not. Doesn’t really seem to be the intended purpose of this place or the norms that your community has (or is trying to establish), but so it goes.

    [1] For that, I can go to a Democratic committee meeting or do some volunteer work for the local party, all of which is, to me, extremely tedious and exhausting and very much Not Fun.

    [2] The old board software had an “ignore” function that mostly didn’t work; AFAICT this one doesn’t even have that. On Twitter I’d block him and be done with it, and do the 24 hour mute thing on people who are generally cool but pushing my buttons at a particular moment in time.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

      @pillsy

      Fair enough, ignore Koz. But don’t you think the impulse to ignore rather than engage is becoming a lot more prevalent on the Left these days? That’s what I am pushing back against. It’s why I am so suspicious every time someone deploys the R bomb against a conservative because it’s a guaranteed conversation killer. It seems like they are just using it to nope-out of the debate instead of engaging.Report

      • All other things aside, choosing to engage or ignore is a sanity-saver. There’s no point in banging your head against a brick wall.

        As to whether or not it is something attributable to “the left these days”… kinda but not really. There are certain argument tics that the broader left has picked up on (some in response to tics on the right and some all their own) but that’s not really what I am picking up from Pillsy’s comments. It’s not exactly the same but reminds me of my general rule of not engaging or disengaging once Corey Robin starts getting cited. I’m less confrontational about it than Pillsy, but (a) I still understand where he’s coming from and (b) I think I used to be more confrontational about it than I am. (Though the Robin thing hasn’t been an issue in a while.)Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Will Truman says:

          I understand the impulse not to engage certain commenters. My list of people I don’t interact with anymore grew significantly in the last year. With that said though, it’s hard for me to resist an intellectual argument if I think the other side is actually trying to present facts as they see them. I’m an ESTJ…debating until the sun goes down is what we do. I suppose this is what so often compels me to encourage conversation. That and how thankful I am that people were patient with me when I needed it the most.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to Will Truman says:

          Corey Robin is an extremely good example.

          I think he makes some good points mixed in with the many bad ones.

          But the whole thing is so snide and dismissive of conservatives and conservatism that I find it off-putting. It’s not helpful to bring him up even if he’s right about something if anybody to my Right is participating in the conversation.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        @Mike:

        But don’t you think the impulse to ignore rather than engage is becoming a lot more prevalent on the Left these days?

        Absolutely. My position is that this is a natural, sympathetic, and partly-justified response to changes in our political culture, and very especially a number of changes on the Right.

        One of those changes is that I believe the Right has gotten incredibly, vastly, overwhelmingly, and figuratively blindingly uninterested in engaging. I can expand upon that if it’s not immediately obvious why I think that.

        Anyway, you don’t seem much interested in engaging with the ideas of the SJ Left. Which is legitimate: I’m not going to be that blatantly hypocritical.[2] But you spend a lot of time talking about how they’re scary and bad and dangerous, and very little time talking about how they’re wrong.

        It’s why I am so suspicious every time someone deploys the R bomb against a conservative because it’s a guaranteed conversation killer.

        Yeah, it’s because from our perspective racism is the conversation killer. Sometimes we will jump to erroneous conclusions because it’s often happening at a System I level, but a lot of conservatives will react to any suggestion of racism in exactly the same way, without considering that they might well be justified.

        This, BTW, is why I object so strenuously to… certain commenters, mostly Rightwards, and now mostly banned: they fuck up my own Availability Heuristic and make me jerk my knee more quickly in response to things that other Rightwards say.

        Like I went roughly 700 rounds with Pinky about Milo a few weeks back and I’m glad I did. But I have a long experience of seeing exacting requests of evidence in similar contexts used as a bad faith ploy. So I had to fight against a knee jerk.

        Fighting against a knee jerk is annoying. You mentioned you’re an ESTJ; I’m an ENFP and tend to follow the way my knee jerks a lot and usually find it jerks me to the right place.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

          “Anyway, you don’t seem much interested in engaging with the ideas of the SJ Left. Which is legitimate: I’m not going to be that blatantly hypocritical.[2] But you spend a lot of time talking about how they’re scary and bad and dangerous, and very little time talking about how they’re wrong.”

          I think to the contrary, i am more than willing to engage with their ideas. I’ve been pushing back against identity politics here pretty much since day 1. It’s why I get branded a racist (or misogynist, etc) on a semi-regular basis. Challenging the assumptions of bigotry and racism only seem to get you labeled as part of the problem.

          I will also say, just as a broad statement, seeing oppression everywhere is not really an idea per se. I asked Matthew for some suggestions on how we deal with the historic effects of racism and haven’t seen anything yet. If he ever provides them, i’m happy to discuss.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            I think to the contrary, i am more than willing to engage with their ideas.

            How many members of the SJ Left are really here?

            FWIW, I don’t really see myself as one of them so much as adjacent to them (socially and politically). I think you’ve got the wrong idea about them.

            But pushing back against identity politics broadly construed is not the same as pushing back against the SJ Left, at least as I understand the term. There’s more there then that, and there’s more there than “oppression is everywhere”.

            As for your question to Mr Luther, I am interested to what he has to say, especially as he seems to be a conservative but one who’s more sympathetic to the concerns of the SJ Left.

            I believe I’ve answered the question myself in the past, and that you thought my proposals were reasonable, but I could be wrong.Report

          • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Here’s an interesting City Journal article from 2017 on unconscious bias and racism. It’s about evaluating the psychological evidence for its existence.

            Two excerpts:

            The implicit-bias idea burst onto the academic scene in 1998 with the rollout of a psychological instrument called the implicit association test (IAT). Created by social psychologists Anthony Greenwald and Mahzarin Banaji, with funding from the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Mental Health, the IAT was announced as a breakthrough in prejudice studies: “The pervasiveness of prejudice, affecting 90 to 95 percent of people, was demonstrated today . . . by psychologists who developed a new tool that measures the unconscious roots of prejudice,” read the press release.

            and

            But though proponents refer to IAT [ed. implicit association test] research as “science”—or, in Kang’s words, “remarkable,” “jaw-dropping” science—their claims about its social significance leapfrogged ahead of scientific validation. There is hardly an aspect of IAT doctrine that is not now under methodological challenge.

            And then it details how bad the early study was, and how it has continually failed replication. If anything, implicit bias is consistently disconfirmed.

            This is relevant if all the current cries of “racism” is mostly a byproduct of the “scientific” idea that everybody is an unconscious racist, and if much of the current desperate virtue signalling is a result of people desperately trying to prove they don’t suffer from a malady with strong negative associations that doesn’t actually exist.

            It would also explain why so many people would claim to see evidence of racism everywhere (since they were told by science that 90 to 95 percent of people harbor racism), whereas a great many other people keep looking around and can’t find the racism that others are so obsessed about.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to pillsy says:

      If you want to ignore Koz that’s great but that means you have to actually ignore him all the time instead of dragging him in as a convenient prop–“look at all the people on this site who angrily and loudly and repeatedly defend Trump, LIKE KOZ”.

      Like, dude posts here, he’s actually around to talk about this, if you’re gonna keep name-checking him then you can’t pick and choose whether you get to engage with him.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to DensityDuck says:

        I don’t want to actively ignore Koz.

        If this were Twitter I could block or at least mute him.

        But it’s not Twitter, so I can’t block or at least mute him.

        That means either actively ignoring him (which requires a degree of effort), engaging with him directly despite the fact that I find him both tedious and foul (which requires more effort to no good end), or basically disengaging from the board one way or another, which requires a lot less effort.

        Anyway, I should probably be on my way out of this place about now (and I know you’ll be absolutely heartbroken to see me go) because I don’t want to be part of a community that thinks Koz is an acceptable member. But I’ve always been extremely bad at kicking bad habits.

        Which is, TBF, another reason I wouldn’t blame @Will et al for kicking me out.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

          @pillsy

          It’s seriously not hard to ignore commenters, even when they directly reply to you. I’m much less willing to ever exile someone from a community because I see it almost always as a net bad. So I am tolerant of a lot of really bad behavior. Sometimes I ignore it and sometimes I engage with it, but I never see it as wise to marginalize someone. I would urge you to take a breather if you need it, but not make any declarations. You may have noticed I was gone from November until February. Mental health breaks are never a bad idea. It’s amazing how much reading I got done when I wasn’t busy telling people they were wrong on the internet 😉Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            @Mike,

            I may take the mental health break. I acknowledge the value of the suggestion.

            However, I’m extremely bad at ignoring comments. I think it’s related to the fact that I read really fast but kind of sloppily (I find it very difficult to not skim/speed read).Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

              I’ve taken a couple of extended breaks from the site now. It’s like quitting any habit, it gets easier. A few times I composed a comment on a post that had me cranked up and then sat on it for a day or two and the impulse went away. I use the same trick at work pretty regularly. I also took the time to read a lot of political and academic stuff. Several books, lots of articles, etc. It freshened up my perspective quite a bit.

              As for ignoring comments, that one actually gets a lot easier for me the older I get. I hate that I am becoming wise in my middle age but such is life. I can hold my cool more often on the internet, but everything hurts for the first 5 minutes after I get out of bed in the morning.Report

  19. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I think every time you suggest that racism is the primary problem facing blacks, you’re making yourself a very close ally at the very least. And if there’s more to the SJ Left that a general message of oppression and self interest, I’m curious to know what you think it is.Report

    • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      @Mike Dwyer,

      I think every time you suggest that racism is the primary problem facing blacks, you’re making yourself a very close ally at the very least.

      I don’t know if it is the primary problem facing African Americans today.

      I do believe that the aftereffects of centuries of deliberately racist policies as well as cultural sentiments, some of which persist in some form, are far and away the biggest reason for the disparate outcomes we see between white and black people in this country.

      And if there’s more to the SJ Left that a general message of oppression and self interest, I’m curious to know what you think it is.

      There’s a ton of argument about what the oppression is, who is oppressed, why, and what we can do to fix it.

      I mean if I said the same thing about conservatism and how it’s a general message of government being band and self-interest, you would think it was a silly objection. There’s a lot more to it than that, even though conservatives tend to be quite suspicious of government, and believe that self-interest, properly channeled through private enterprise, really is good!

      Also many of the members of the SJ Left are, in fact, straight, white, cis males. You seem to thinkReport

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to pillsy says:

        Sorry, thought I finished the last bit there.

        You seem to think that the SJ Left (which you view me as part of which is fine) is all about self-interest. I’m a straight, white, cis male. What’s my self-interested reason for supporting the SJ Left?Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

          I think most of the SJ Left is white. the polling data proves that out. White atonement seems to be the primary driver in that group. But they are driving identity politics back through the rest of the Democratic party and it has split them into lots of little factions that really have nothing in common, nor do they seem to have much interest in helping each other beyond pulling the lever for Team Blue every four years.

          The question for Matthew was about what to do next though. That is where policy preferences come in and I think where the SJ left reveals itself to be bereft of ideas.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            I think most of the SJ Left is white. the polling data proves that out. White atonement seems to be the primary driver in that group.

            Why would they be doing that?

            And why do you think it’s self-interested even if they are?

            One of the reasons I keep pushing this is I think you have a mental model of what motivates the SJ Left that aligns poorly with what I see motivating the SJ Left.

            And for that matter, what it means for the coalition structure of the Democratic Party, where the SJ Left is a minority faction, though one which I think punches above its weight.

            But they are driving identity politics back through the rest of the Democratic party and it has split them into lots of little factions that really have nothing in common, nor do they seem to have much interest in helping each other beyond pulling the lever for Team Blue every four years.

            This seems… false? I don’t see any particular lack in intra-party solidarity now compared to several years ago. If anything the opposite has happened, not that this is terribly unusual when the party is in the opposition.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

              “One of the reasons I keep pushing this is I think you have a mental model of what motivates the SJ Left that aligns poorly with what I see motivating the SJ Left.”

              I’m basing my model on 20 years of observation. I very much believe it has become a secular religion.

              As for how unified the party is, you all have a fun primary season coming up. I think we’ll have a good idea of what things look like a year from now.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I am basing my model on at least as much observation, and some of that from a standpoint of being at least very near the group.

                I don’t have any interest in atoning for being white. I think white guilt is dumb and counterproductive.

                I do not think that view is unusual on the SJ Left. Some people do experience it, but they’re usually the ones who find the SJ Left alienating.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                If that is true then I guess I wish it actually was white atonement motivating them because otherwise all of those charges of racism and bigotry feel more like intellectual laziness.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Perhaps the SJ Left is doing the same thing that the KKK is for the right–they aren’t more than a tiny number of actual people but they’re such a good rock for the other side to beat on that we can’t help but keep seeing them.

            That said, I’m pretty sure that we won’t see a situation where the KKK threatens to shut down a Fourth Of July Parade because there wasn’t going to be an entirely-separate officially-sanctioned, -sponsored, and -advertised White Power Rally–and the organizers actually do cancel the parade because of it.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to DensityDuck says:

              I think my concern with the SJ Left is that despite claims to the contrary, white nationalists actually have very little influence on actual proposals from Trump. His old man racism is not the same as their ideological racism.

              On the other hand, the SJ Left very much influences policy. Colleges remain the most obvious example, but if you look at the DNC platform, the campaigns of Harris, Booker and Warren, the politics of AOC, etc…these are all steeped in SJ rhetoric. So in that sense, while they are a very small group (8% or less of the population if the polling is correct) they absolutely have a much bigger platform than their counterparts on the Right. If anything, they might be better compared the Religious Right from the 80s and 90, a group that absolutely influenced policy.Report

  20. Avatar pillsy says:

    @Dave:

    I read your comment, think it’s quite good, and am trying to decide how much to respond to in depth. Because (and I’m not actually all that surprised) I agree with most of it; a lot of the differences I expect come down to the affective part.

    I did appreciate this part especially, though, because it was something I was fumbling at when @Mike asked me what there is to the SJ Left and why I don’t see myself as a part of it and I kind of fumbled for an answer:

    The biggest criticism I have of what constitutes modern identity politics, besides the fact that it reduces and centers politics around constructed group identities, is that it reduces politics down to power relations between groups, usually in the dominant/marginalized, oppressor/oppressed, where power is a zero-sum game. Unlike liberalism, where universal appeals to rights, equality, etc. justify and encourage inclusion, under these kinds of power relations, with an oppressor/oppressed framework, liberal inclusion isn’t a solution because by definition it can’t be. The power structures responsible for marginalizing certain identities need to be “dismantled”, and the oppression is by virtue of being included within the status quo.

    I think this gets at it pretty exactly. It (often wildly) overcorrects from a reasonable set of reactions in ways that are, I think, sterile when it comes to actually solving problems, and often posits a set of little identity boxes, if you will, that are extremely confining fro the people placed in them.[1] Definitely illiberal and also I think bad. I think it’s a challenge to balance the needs of individual liberty so people can find their own ways to flourish and the fact that what those people often want is to construct communities that restrain their freedoms and those of their neighbors, but this really ain’t it.

    It’s also why the whole “cultural appropriation” preoccupation is terrible. The more I see it play out in practice the less I see where the benefits that justify the costs lie.

    [1] And pace Mike and his buddies who feel attacked, I actually think this provides a paradoxical benefit for those of us (white, straight, male, cis, et c.) without marked identities because we just are expected to stay out of other people’s often very confining boxes.Report

  21. Avatar pillsy says:

    @Will et al.,

    I know you said to drop it but the subject has come up again and I noticed this bit after you gave your directive. I’m bad at ignoring comments.

    This, from Koz, is, at best, very thinly veiled hashtag white genocide/Great Replacement alt-right propaganda.

    Basically, immigration is a weapon our adversaries are using against the whole concept of assimilation, against us. If immigrants started assimilating like Peter Brimelow and John Derbyshire, Pill would be singing a much different tune in a heartbeat.

    Tighten up the prose, make it scan better, and Koz could march through the night with a Tiki torch chanting it.

    In the past staff members have said advocating white nationalism is outside the bounds of acceptable debate here on Ordinary Times, as is endless dancing up to the very edge of the rules. I believe Koz is doing both.

    If you direct me (again) to walk away from this subject, I will be pretty disappointed, because though this is your house and your rules, I believe it’s a better house than that.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

      @pillsy

      If you read my brief discussion with Koz on the immigration angle, I think it’s actually a valid question i.e. what does assimilation look like today and what cultural baggage are recent immigrants bringing with them. I know you have priors with Koz and it’s hard to look past that but because I don’t have those, I found it interesting.

      I will also say that maybe I am a bad example because my belief in the value of immigration is so strong that no one is ever going to shake that foundation, which means I can engage on pretty much any angle related to immigration, no matter how convincing and it isn’t going to shake my convictions. It’s fair to say my strongest patriotic impulses are based on welcoming new people to our country. It’s a core belief for me.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        The question of the values of the people assimilating is fine, I guess. Not super-interesting to me (because I believe it’s not going to play out the way anti-immigration types think), but many questions are not super-interesting to me.

        But the problem is his accusation that Chip and I are using it as a weapon against his side in a “near-civil-war cultural conflict”. That is where you get into incredibly nasty far-right territory, and is the underlying theory that led a far-right gunman to murder 11 Jews in Pittsburgh.

        I’m not saying Koz is deliberately (or even accidentally) trying to incite violence. I am saying that having people espouse theories that are so close to that one, and are otherwise generally shot through with both racism and anti-semitism, is profoundly unpleasant and far out of line with what should be allowed on a board devoted primarily to recreational debate of politics and other subjects.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

          I guess I didn’t entirely follow his point on how it is being used against him. I understand his point about white supremacy among recent immigrants (although I would say I pretty strongly disagree it would be a factor once they arrive) but clearly i didn’t follow the rest of it.Report

  22. Avatar pillsy says:

    @Mike:

    I think my concern with the SJ Left is that despite claims to the contrary, white nationalists actually have very little influence on actual proposals from Trump. His old man racism is not the same as their ideological racism.

    I agree about this to an extent. I think Trump is a racist for two reasons:

    1. One he’s an old man who grew up in racist environment and is perhaps the least humble, thoughtful, and curious person ever occupy the Office of the President. And that’s really saying something.

    2. He’s a cruel bully. He enjoys hurting people weaker than himself and lording his power over them. Racism provides that power to him, and yes, especially because he’s white.

    On the other hand the fact that he’s got Steve Miller setting his immigration policy and let Steve Bannon run his Presidential campaign suggests that he very much is willing to let ideological racists steer his policies (especially since he could give a shit about policy), as does his eagerness to embrace far-right figures in Europe, like Viktor Orban or Marie Le Penn.

    That may not be ideological either. He just seems to actively like a lot of horrible authoritarian dictators. Like half the time he talks about how great Kim Jong Un is. Now Kim Jong Un is clearly not a white nationalist but he is a tyrant who rules perhaps the most appallingly horrid totalitarian regime on the planet.

    As for how many white nationalists there are, ISTR some polling led me to believe it was between 8-12%. I can try to dig it up.

    Also, as an aside, which positions coming from the Dem nominees strike you as distinctly coming from the SJ Left? I’m curious because I don’t think I’ve seen much I would characterize that way.Report

  23. A lot of great comments and a lot of good discussion, but it’s time to go ahead and shut this one down.Report