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AvatarComments by pillsy in reply to Andrew Donaldson*

On “Linky Friday #159: Dolphins & Killer Whales

But it’s not ‘their job’ to confirm his appointments.

No one has suggested otherwise.

They are free to, for example, hold hearings and then vote to disconfirm. That would do a good job of supporting their contention that they have discharged their Constitutional responsibility with regards to Garland, and Obama could send them a new nominee, and we could move on from there.

Or they could try selling the line that they can do whatever they want and because nobody can force them to do otherwise there's no room to criticize them for not doing their jobs. This is exactly the sort of argument that voters just love to hear from incumbent Senators, and I can't imagine why Mark Kirk and Jerry Moran are shying away from such a winning message.

On “I’m done – Kira Hall speaks out on the context of sexual assault

Criminal court proceedings aren’t supposed to protect women or really anybody else. In the ideal common law case the sole star at the trial is the accused. The question is whether or not this person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The assumption is that the accused is innocent and that it is better to let a guilty person go free than punish the accused. This is what criminal court proceedings are supposed to be about.


But in that case, there hardly seems to be much room for outrage or even objection to Ms Hall's proposed course of action. People taking perfectly legal action to protect themselves from probable abusers, or even impose negative social consequences on them, can hardly be said to be acting unjustly simply because those probable abusers would be acquitted in a court of law.

On “Linky Friday #159: Dolphins & Killer Whales

We'll see. My understanding is that the, "They aren't doing their jobs!" line of attack has a history of being a reasonably effective among swingy constituencies, the Senate map for the GOP is already looking pretty ugly, and the counter-arguments just aren't that good.

Joe Biden[1] said something that maybe supports the GOP position 23 years ago. Yeah, OK, so?

[1] Biden, of course, is known far and wide for never making an ill-considered remark.


Not morally, no. I suspect it will turn out that they are politically obligated to do so, given the slow trickle of defections we're seeing from Republican Senators who are actually up for re-election.

Surely, though, if Garland is such a left-wing radical that it's imperative that he not be seated on the Court, it should be easy for the Republicans to demonstrate this in hearings, and justify rejecting him via an up-and-down vote.

On “Ordinary Times Wants You!

Different online spaces serve different purposes. You don't have to condemn or eschew explicitly partisan fora to find value in non-partisan ones.

On “How Not To Strawman

You seem to be suggesting that, "Are people talking about this?" is a good way to measure a trend, but all my experience suggests that it's an absolutely terrible way to measure trend. It's also, well, extremely reminiscent of what people were saying in the '90s about discourse on college campuses, though I suppose some of the alleged pieties were different.


So we're supposed to worry that, three or four times a year, something on some campus will blow up in a way that supposedly narrows acceptable discourse to a tiny yet constantly shifting band because it upsets a few dozen students. We can tell that discourse has been narrowed because there will be a huge number of people explaining how ridiculous the students are being everywhere from Twitter to major newspapers.

On “Challenges to the Alt-Right and Identitarians

I think you're lumping three very different things together.

Criticizing "political correctness" is so common that it falls just short of ubiquitous. I find such criticisms tend to be silly and annoying, with a strong tendency towards the self-refuting, but the people who have most annoyed me with them are nothing like white supremacists.

"Modern liberalism", sure, there's more overlap, but there still isn't a ton of signal there if you mean "modern liberalism" in the sense of broadly capitalist societies coupled with welfare states and liberal democratic forms of government.

Criticism of egalitarianism, though, seems to overlap a lot more heavily.

On “How Not To Strawman

Maybe it's the President who's being oversensitive here, then?

Or, you know, maybe he's issuing a meaningless statement in order to avoid further annoying communications with a double-handful of kids freaking out over nothing much. This is something that college Presidents have been known to do as well.


Just under 8000 undergraduates attend Emory. This means we're talking about half a percent getting upset about "Trump 2016" being chalked on the sidewalk. This doesn't strike me as a dangerous epidemic of oversensitivity here.

On “Challenges to the Alt-Right and Identitarians

I am also saying that a very, very good way to not address these criticisms of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness is to point out that some of these criticisms are shared by white supremacists and other very, very bad people. This turns the topic into white supremacists and the other very, very bad people rather than the criticisms.

But it's also a way (good or not) to limit the scope and reach of the white supremacists. For many people[1], maintaining strong norms against white supremacists, and maintaining strong norms against forming coalitions with white supremacists are both very important goals. On the other hand, the likelihood that white supremacists[2] have come up with worthwhile criticisms of modern society is very low.

So of course a lot of people are going to reply like that. Why shouldn't they?

[1] I.e., the ones who aren't white, or have friends and family members who aren't white, or belong to any of the other long list of targets of neo-Nazi wrath.

[2] That is, people in the grip of a completely corrupt ideology that prevents them from dealing reasonably with the most basic questions of fact.


They either will or they won’t.

If you don't care which they do, why say anything at all?

It seems kind of strange to want to make an argument, but stop short of wanting to make a convincing argument--especially when that more convincing argument is also more accurate.


I'm assuming that the goal is to convince people who don't see serious problems with liberalism and political correctness to treat those legitimate complaints as if they are, indeed, legitimate complaints.


Some of them, indeed, should endeavor to avoid tying these criticisms together.

Yeah, this is where I have a lot of problem with the line of argument that this is a "natural response" to liberals and PC police and the like pushing people around--that's precisely the same argument the white nationalists themselves make. It's not even plausible that it's true--white nationalists and their ideological forebears have been arguing that for, roughly, ever, and you can't explain a variable with a constant.

There may be good arguments out there. I think I can see a jumping off point from Damon's first comment that is at least worth considering. But this line of argument is really counterproductive if you want to avoid the smudging.


Easier to get smudgy and smudge the legitimate criticisms as being necessarily tied together with white nationalism and, therefore, being necessarily illegitimate in the first place.

OK, but isn't that tying something that people who want to advance the criticisms and advocate change to address them should endeavor to avoid?

This line of argument seems to be doing the opposite of that to me.


You seem to be under the impression that their “wrong-ness” means they won’t be successful in recruiting more to their side.Right/wrong has nothing to do with it.

No, it means that their stated grievances are extremely unlikely to indicate anything about the sort of social changes that would effectively de-fang them. This means that making public policy changes to appease them solves no actual problem.


So shouldn't people who agree that those criticisms are legitimate do everything possible to disassociate them from white nationalism?

If that's impossible, don't the people defending "modern liberalism, egalitarianism and political correctness" kind of have a point?


Because if you really did view them as a threat, a serious one, would you not consider that your support of the current path might be worth altering just a bit, or slowing down so others can catch up?

No, because I assume, on the basis that their ideology is self-evidently corrupt, that they have no insight at all into what's actually wrong.

Maybe there are real social trends that are empowering them, but the idea that those real trends have anything at all to do with what they say is wrong with society is implausible in the extreme.


Jaybird: In the short run, it probably is a good idea to conflate the legitimate criticisms of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness with white identitarianism. I think it will eventually result in some criticisms losing a lot of sting through overuse, though.

This seems bizarre. Why would it be a good idea to conflate legitimate criticism with one of the most thoroughly discredited ideologies there is, and one which is going to be axiomatically rejected by a large majority of people who don't qualify as "white"?


Oh, I don’t know,”the extreme to which white nationalists take this formation would only lead to more war and conflict ”

Many extreme ideologies promote war and conflict. That hardly means that they have any merit as descriptions of reality.

I see this as a natural response to being pushed around.Oh, you can say that these folks are finally meeting resistance to THEIR pushing, but that’s not the point.

I could say that, but I won't. What I will say is that, just because they're acting like they're pushed around doesn't mean they are being pushed around. Sure, they may say as much, but given the whole "lunatics and frauds" thing mentioned above, I see no reason to care what they say.

Escalation is happening.How do you think it’ll end?I’m got an idea and it’s not pretty.But you go ahead and not worry, label them as idiots, and discount them.How could that possibly go wrong?

I can discount their point of view without discounting them as a threat.


Couldn’t you say the same thing about other “identity” groups?

Let's assume, arguendo, that they're doing the same thing as the members of other "identity" groups--the same other "identity" groups that, they claim, are unfit to participate in the same polity as they are because they somehow lack the resources[1] to fit into a civilized society. Now they want to adopt the organizing strategies and political structure of those very groups?

This suggests to me that they're either complete idiots or frauds. Either way, why would I somehow treat their "push back" as something to give me pause?

[1] Frequently, they insist, these resources are genetic


Well, they aren't just in favor of "Western culture", but traditional, bygone "Western culture", and then they shun the products of that supposed culture in favor of commercialized products of our contemporary, allegedly debased age.


Of course. It's because they hate the actual culture of the West, and want to replace it with something completely different. The idea that they're trying to construct an "'authentic' identity divorced from the civic nationalism practiced in western societies," is a pretty big tell.

Also, the whole bit where they insist that race is totally a real thing but can't decide whether Caucasians are Caucasian is pretty funny.

On “Paul David Miller: Let’s Resurrect The Federalist Party

But I also think that liberals push for judicial or legislative change when hey don’t have the patience for social change at a natural pace.

Certainly, but again I don't think this is a particularly meaningful charge, because it describes such a wide variety of policies, left, right and center, and, for that matter, good, bad and indifferent.


I think I accidentally deleted a reply I was trying to edit.

I think the statement is too vague to rebut. The issue isn't that "you guys" do it too, it's that it's all to easy to see ways to make the criticism fit almost anything you guys do.

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