June 09, 2004

New Column

My new Tech Central Station column is up: The Berkeley Intifada?

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 9, 2004 11:06 PM
Comments

Great article, Michael.

One side point though.

You write: But since the new anti-Semitism is imported from another part of the world, too many people feel queasy about taking a stand against immigrants.

Last October Salon.com had an article, The hacky sac intifada, which argued that it was the White kids in the pro-Palestinian campus movement who were the driving force behind most of the hatred.

The subheading for the story: The most popular movement on college campuses is divided between moderate Arab students and radical lefty white kids who have adopted the Palestinian cause as their own.

Obviously many Arab students involved in the pro-Palesitnian movement are hardly "moderate," but the larger point stands. This is not necessarily a case where White kids are afraid of being called racist so they just go along, but rather many are actually the driving force behind some of the most radical sentiments. Certainly PCness is preventing some people from speaking up. But this is not solely a matter of an immigrant mindset run amok.

The Salon story was about two college students in America: Charlotte Kates from New Jersey and Fayyad Sbaihat from the Occupied Territories.

Both Kates and Sbaihat are college students in America. But only one of them is a radical pro-Palestinian activist who says that Israel has no right to exist. Only one of them advocates Palestinian resistance "by any means necessary" to liberate all of the land "from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea," land currently under the control of "Israeli oppressors."

Guess which one of them it is.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 10, 2004 12:38 AM

SoCalJustice,

That is very counter-intuitive. The Middle East clearly has a serious problem with anti-Semitism, much worse than the United States.

I read the piece, and it's news to me. Thanks.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 12:56 AM

Fine piece, Michael -- but I'm sure there's support for this growth of hate in the support for Bush-hate, and you're very quiet on any such connections.

Similarly, the early Bush-hate was driven, to a large degree, by a hatred of his tax cuts (for the rich!) My two bigger posts seem relevant:
Bush hate, Jew hate, Success hate

Money grubbing hate leads to Jew hate

(Perhaps you missed them? Comments welcome, there or here.)

Posted by: Tom Grey at June 10, 2004 03:49 AM
That is very counter-intuitive. The Middle East clearly has a serious problem with anti-Semitism, much worse than the United States.

Well you are talking about what are effectively highly intelligent teenagers (and that includes the overgrown ones with tenure). The sad fact is that this has been cool and hip and with-it for some time. What was talked about as abstractions in parties in the late 90s (trust me, I saw one nasty one) has taken hard physical form as rocks through windows and naked hateful intimidation.

It'd be nice to think that modern college students have some critical thinking skills to avoid this vile behavior and keep a clear head on what is a complex issue but for many they can't practice what they never learned. And thus they fall prey to demagogues and hate mongers to whom they cleave to in order to show how much they care. Paralyze that grey matter and the emotions are wide open for dishonest people to grab and manipulate :-/

Posted by: Bill at June 10, 2004 06:09 AM

Michael, you say you would be glad to give the skinhead a shove. if the skinhead is an agent provacateur, which is entirely possible given the history of the FBI's infiltration of American social movements, you've just helped the guy accomplish his goal and given the prowar media a chance to film violence at a rally.

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 06:19 AM

noche: "agent provacateur", "FBI's infiltration" - you seem obsessed with this idea. You have brought it up in several threads on this site. Having a hard time believing that some people on your team are way over the line? Sounds like a complete state of denial to me.

Posted by: Eric E. Coe at June 10, 2004 06:37 AM

Dammit Eric, don't you know that COINTELPRO is behind all of this? You thought they were shut down, didn't you. Hah! Just goes to show that THEY have pulled the wool over your eyes!

Posted by: Dave at June 10, 2004 06:46 AM

actually, it's not the stuff of conspiracy theory, a basic knowledge of american history would be sufficient to understand why antiwar protest organizers encourage participants to avoid conflicts with provacateurs, especially since the media are looking for such conflicts to report as 'protest violence'.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1058

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 07:23 AM
Michael, you say you would be glad to give the skinhead a shove. if the skinhead is an agent provacateur, which is entirely possible given the history of the FBI's infiltration of American social movements, you've just helped the guy accomplish his goal and given the prowar media a chance to film violence at a rally.

(If you believe that, then the God Hates F*gs people are really with Act Up. Unless Agent Provacateurs only work for The Man.)

Posted by: Bill at June 10, 2004 07:55 AM

Michael,

this is your best article yet (although an endorsement from me may not serve you well in some circles).

You make two excellent, excellent points.

It looks as though the activist set expects hatemongering anti-social behavior from Muslim immigrants just as they expect a dog to pee on the rug. It's the "soft bigotry of low expectations" with a racial twist.

Bingo. This is what I've supsected myself for the last 3 years or so. Low expectations of brown people by Liberals is pure racism, no more no less.

and,

Maybe the double standard isn't racist at all. Maybe it's all about fear. For the politically correct activist, nothing is worse than being denounced as a racist. Who would want to suffer the Daniel Pipes treatment? Criticize Muslim anti-Semitism and your comrades just might lump you in with the Klan. Maybe the PC brigade is afraid -- literally -- of itself.

This is something I hadn't considered, and I heard it here first. It's an extremely well-taken point. I departed ways with the Left because of thought policing. Maybe some people just shut up and choose to stay. How can you leave family? They're like battered wives, they have nowhere else to go

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 08:13 AM

Unlikely, if ACTUP were infiltrating organizations, the FBI would know about it. Your analogy doesn't work.
The well documented record of FBI infiltration of peace/civil rights/labor movements is publicly on the record and not disputed.

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 08:14 AM

noche, if (as many on the anti-War Left are prone to claim) the best way to counter terrorism is to increase law inforcement and intelligence gathering, should the FBI be infiltrating groups that might provide aid and comfort to terrorists?

What's it going to be? Hmmm?

And you are totally blowing off the assertion that Michael's friend knows the guy in the pictures, and that he's a long-term creep of the first magnitude.

Why can't you work with the idea that some people who protest US foreign policy do so for very bad reasons?

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 10, 2004 08:45 AM

Noche,

I'm not going to have my comments section turn into a back-and-forth about conspiracy theories. I wasn't even born yet when the 1960s ended. Catch up.

If you have hard evidence that the FBI is scrawling FUCK JEWS on walls then cite it, otherwise drop it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 08:49 AM

It becomes less and less surprising whenever someone blows a little fog out of the way and reveals political-correctness as being the utter negative of what it purports to be. Totalitarian absolutism on the march against totalitarian absolutism? Can't help but be reminded of the 30s nazi conflict between the blackshirts and the brownshirts. Imagine what this late-model Berkely PC could be, hooked up to a personality cult of some sort.

Posted by: Buddy Larsen at June 10, 2004 08:54 AM

>>>"If you have hard evidence that the FBI is scrawling FUCK JEWS on walls then cite it, otherwise drop it."

The Left has become so lame. I have a Lefty friend who absolutely requires that everything be "fabricated" or a conspiracy in order for his worldview to hold up. 9/11 was actually a U.S. govt operation, so was the Madrid bombing, etc etc. It's so tiresome already.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 08:58 AM

Ok, I wasnt gunna whore myself again... but noche has got me... I wrote about this some here. And let me tell you, the person telling me "Its the f-ing Jews!" was NOT a government plant... he is a leftwing West coast professor. BTW, great post Mike.

Posted by: sblafren at June 10, 2004 09:00 AM

Buddy,

Blackshirts -- Mussolini (also, nazi SS)
Brownshirts -- Hitler (nazi SA)

Where was the conflict?

Chuck

Posted by: chuck at June 10, 2004 09:02 AM

Excellent article, Michael. Thank you.

I found yout thought "Maybe the PC brigade is afraid -- literally -- of itself." particularly insightful.

I wonder if it doesn't also apply to Islam to some extent, and for similar reasons. Both western liberalism and Islam have been hijacked by extremists who scare the moderates.

Posted by: Fredrik Nyman at June 10, 2004 09:04 AM

>>>"Where was the conflict?"

Learn some history. The brownshirts were destroyed by the SS blackshirts, night of the long knives.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 09:07 AM

By the way, I don't want to leave the impression that I believe the FBI should do anything to subvert protest movements. Hell, if it turns out Bush did authorize "any means necessary" interogation tactics, I'm going to be on the street myself protesting. (I'll still vote for the bastard, because this is a forced-choice election. But damn, a message has to be sent, and being on the street will send one.)

But the logical inconsistencies of the anti-US intervention crowd are astounding. The same people who say law enforcement and intelligence are the appropriate tools to combat terror wouldn't trust the FBI to walk their dog. (Hell, I wouldn't trust the FBI to walk my dog; that's why I believe we need to go to the source of the threat.)

End of rant.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 10, 2004 09:09 AM

Michael, you wrote:

Maybe the PC brigade is afraid -- literally -- of itself.

This is exactly the issue. New draftees into this hoary old cult of counterculture must prove their mettle by saying ever-more outrageous things. That they would be afraid of the disapprobation of a bunch of 50-year-old men with stringy hair and tie-dyed T-shirts would be hilarious if it wasn't so sad.

I suspect this stuff will continue until the last hippie is pushing up daisies. I went to college in the 80s, a time when there was little to protest. But that didn't stop the Leftover Sixties Peaceniks on campus from holding sit-ins, vigils and marches for an unending stream of manufactured causes. The Palestinians are nothing more than the cause du jour used by the Left to keep their ranks from getting restless.

Posted by: Fresh Air at June 10, 2004 09:10 AM

>>>"Hell, if it turns out Bush did authorize "any means necessary" interogation tactics, I'm going to be on the street myself protesting."

I'm as queasy as the next guy about "coercion," but let's say waterboarding one of these guys will avoid the next 9/11, or even the next roadside bomb? What then?

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 09:12 AM

Well, if I do protest look for the guy carrying the sign that says "Pro War, Anti Torture."

If you don't see me, you might check nearby ambulances...

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 10, 2004 09:15 AM

Michael, I have no idea the relevance of your birthdate to the discussion. I haven't mentioned any conspiracy theories, you seem to resort to that phrase when there's no evidence of conspiracy theories. The Frank Donner piece, the heaps of evidence of FBI infiltration in the US peace movement is on the public record, no secret conspiracy there.
You dismiss entirely out of hand what every experienced organizer, be they in the civil rights, labor, or peace movement have to deal with on a daily level, the issue of police infiltration of movements, especially that of agent provacateurs. Even as recently as last year a peace group in California found out that a police officer had infiltrated their group when they found his obituary in the newspaper revealed him to be an undercover police officer.

This is not conspiracy theory, just a historical reality that organizers deal with. It's not unique to the US, look at Italy and the Genoa protests and the 'violence' that turneed out to be provoked by police agents. You have heard about that scandal, correct? Again, no conspiracy, it's all out there in the pubic record.

It's possible the guy is not an agent. If not, I'd still recommend that he not be 'confronted', since the media and police are often looking for excuses to cite 'violence' in protests. Such behavior is a distraction and has little influence on the influence of the peace movement anyhow. There could have been 3 million people out in the streets protesting in the US instead of the 1 million that showed up to protest and Bush still would have invaded, the Dems still would have accepted the WMD propaganda from Bush.

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 09:17 AM

David, the serious response to your question is that I would personally apply the nutcracker to any guy who could definitively provide intelligence to stop a murder. The problem is the false positives. (Meaning the humans falsely identified as intelligence sources.)

Trying to define an acceptable level of false positives leads down a very ugly slope.

Also, you're asking the guys on the ground to put themselves in the position of playing god, and that does nasty things to a lot of people. Again, the Stanford Prison Experiment shows that not only are the prisoners misused, so are the guards.

So in the end, I opt for institutionalized restraint. It keeps us humans from becoming animals.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 10, 2004 09:21 AM

Noche--

It's equally possible YOU are an agent provocateur, trying to hijack this thread.

I thought MJT told you to put up or shut up. Since you obviously don't have anything but crackpot conjecture, why don't you kindly put your keyboard on mute for a while.

Posted by: Fresh Air at June 10, 2004 09:23 AM

Poling,

good answer, as a general rule. But all rules have exceptions. Catching a top level Al-Qaida operative would fall under such an exception obviously.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 09:25 AM

>>>"I thought MJT told you to put up or shut up. Since you obviously don't have anything but crackpot conjecture,"

They also get a LOT of mileage out of conjecture-- the what if's and all sorts of speculation. The facts-- the here and now however-- they ignore as mere "fabrication."

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 09:30 AM

noche:

I'd still recommend that he not be 'confronted', since the media and police are often looking for excuses to cite 'violence' in protests.

No enemies on the Left, huh?

What scares people is violence outwardly-directed. Think bricks thrown through the Starbucks windows. Think Symbianese Liberation Army. What happens internally in protest movements doesn't merrit back-page coverage in most papers. (That's why ANSWER gets to call the shots in most "Protest" movements.)

I WILL carry a "Pro War/Anti Torture" sign, and I WILL ask anyone carrying a "Smash the Jewish State" sign to take it down or get out of my sight. (I probably WILL get my ass kicked, too.)

And I probably WON'T end up on the evening news. But with luck I'll make it less acceptable to advocate genocide as a solution to the problems in the Middle East.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 10, 2004 09:30 AM

Noche-
Link, please. Surely you can provide some documentation for your claims.

Posted by: Phil Smith at June 10, 2004 09:34 AM

Noche,

I unknowingly hired one of the thugs who kidnapped Patty Hearst to sand and finish my hardwood floors 2 years ago. He's in jail now. Shortly after he was picked up (by the FBI, by the way) I saw Patty Hearst on Larry King talking about my floor guy. I was truly amazed.

Just curious...do you think he's real? Or a plant? Back in the day, did you think it was worth criticizing the SLA, or did only cops and right-wing death beasts bother with that sort of thing?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 09:37 AM

Noche is absolutely right. One cannot hold an honest discussion of the dynamics of political demonstrations without taking into account the role of people who are there with very different agendas. And that, in almost every case of a large scale demonstration, includes the police and/or FBI.

As noche points out, this is not a crazy conspiracy theory - it is simply, and undeniably the reality.

I would agree with Michael that this issue is not necessarily germane to the issue of the day, unless some evidence can be brought forth to prove its relvance.

But it is also completely dishonest or willfully blind to pretend that these things only happened in the sixties, or that the possibility of their relevance is not something that should be explored.

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 09:40 AM

Geezus! This thread was about the political correctness movement. Tano descends like a vulture onto a cow's carcase the minute "conspiracy theory" pops up.

If this isn't the definition of "trolling," I don't know what is.

Posted by: Fresh Air at June 10, 2004 09:45 AM

That East Bay Express article is really poorly done. I just graduated from Cal this year, and was a Columnist for the student paper in 2002. (I coined the term "Berkeley Intifada" back in 2002 when there was that rash of anti-semitic attacks, in fact).

Anti-semitic activity at Cal peaked in 2002 with several large SJP rallies and several nasty incidents, like the attack on Hillel and battery on that man.

But since then it's declined to just about nothing. SJP held one tiny rally this year that attracted about 20 people, a far cry from the 300 or so of just a few years ago. The Pipes rally was the sole exception, and even there most of the Protestors were A) non-students and B) about 40 years old.

There's numerous other problems with the article. The girl who accused her Professor of quoting the Protocols of Zion was the same person who spit on an SJP Protestor at a rally. She's also affiliated with DAFKA, which was so extremist it was kicked out of Hillel this year.

Of the three main Jewish people quoted, Daniel Frankenstein was an ASUC Senator and nearly won for School President. He also works for AIPAC. Jesse Gabriel was School President and also works for Israeli advocacy groups. Micki Weinberg ran for City Council against an incumbent (in the most Liberal part of Berkeley,) and got 43% of the vote. This year's student elections elected Misha Leybovich, another self-described Zionist, as ASUC President. So A) Jewish students are eminently respected and elected on campus, and B) the students the article quotes are not good examples of "typical Jewish students."

There's a story to be told about the maybe/maybe-not anti-semitism in several fringe groups on campus. (ME Studies, SJP, and International Socialists.) But to tar every Berkeley student, as this article does, as either anti-semitic or blase about it is stupid.

If anything, the interesting story is how SJP's extremist tactics and wink wink "anti-Zionist" rhetoric have alienated the broad mass of students in the past few years. Whereas only a few years ago the broad mass of students were apathetic, the civility and reasonableness of the pro-Israeli groups have made them pre-eminent over anti-Israeli groups, who just seem crazed.

Posted by: Kevin! at June 10, 2004 09:46 AM

Kevin,

Thanks for the info.

Also, I have no doubt most students at Berkeley are not anti-Semitic, and I said so in the piece. I didn't tar the entire campus with it. I also know not every student is blase about it. I quoted (second hand) a Berkeley student in the article.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 09:51 AM

Tano and Noche,

The "infiltration" line of argument in this thread ends now.

If you want to discuss infiltration in general, fine. I know it happens. But I will not have this discussion hijacked by it. You can't come in here and say "The cops did it!" and think that's a reasonable response to the problem I wrote about. It isn't, and it's over.

This is not a suggestion.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 09:56 AM

Michael:

Excellent article on TCS. But you're being far too kind. PC isn't about racism. It isn't about sexism. It isn't about hate or fear. It's about control. It's about power.

This is plain old Maoist Cultural Revolution claptrap. Deny people the right to speak because we all know how hateful people with those kinds of ideas are. But it's the riddle of the kallikanzaroi: which weighs more a pound of feathers or a pound of lead? Heads I win, tails you lose. Noone is so pure that they can't be suppressed using this kind of logic.

I've had it used on me exactly that way: you're so lacking in prejudice that you must be over-compensating. Over-compensation like that is a sure sign of latent bigotry. Tails you lose.

Posted by: Dave Schuler at June 10, 2004 09:58 AM

Noche, my apologies. I found the article (see url).

Posted by: Phil Smith at June 10, 2004 09:58 AM

I already provided several good links for my claim that the FBI has extensively infiltrated civil rights/peace/labor movement groups and demonstrations, did I not?

Michael none of what you write changes the well documented record of infiltration of provacateurs in the US peace movment, their role in provoking violence, dissension, etc. As I noted, this is not something unique to the US, it's a practice in many other countries as well.

I really have no idea Michael if the guy is a provacaateur or not. He is marginal to the peace movement and it's a good idea for organizers not to give such people attention since they distract from the purpose of demos and give the media an opportunity to claim there was 'violence' at the demo if a conflict results. Every experienced organizer will tell you the same.

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 09:59 AM

Point being, why did you use that EBE article as your only source? Even Daniel and Misha thought it was overblown at best. (And Micki is notorious for accusing his City Council opponent of being anti-semitic, when the opponent regularly recited the names of the dead on Holocaust Remembrance Day.)

I used to blog at calstuff.blogspot.com. If curious, go back to the archives and you can follow the evolution of the height of Cal anti-semitism in Spring of 2002 and its subsequent decline in Fall of 2003 (when Ehud Barak spoke on campus).

Posted by: Kevin! at June 10, 2004 10:00 AM

Not sure why between the sides everyone can't agree on the following:

--it's possible that law enforcement agents will try to infiltrate political organizations such as current anti-war protest groups, because they have done so in the past. A variety of accounts suggest it's entirely possible that such infiltrators may act intentionally as disruptors, discreditors, provocateurs, etc, instead of simply as information gatherers committed to remaining passive unless there's evidence of dangerous illegal activities.

---In the particular case Michael is talking about, there's no evidence to support the suggestion that the particular man in question is a plant.

Why is such a simple acknowledgement so effing hard? Is it really so much more fun to have a food fight instead of a meal?

Posted by: bk at June 10, 2004 10:01 AM

In the particular case Michael is talking about, there's no evidence to support the suggestion that the particular man in question is a plant.

--and have i not already acknowledged that much? have i not said that there are good reasons why such types are ignored by organizers? have i not said clearly that it is possible given the publicly documented history of provocation by infiltrators from the FBI in the peace mov't that this guy is a provacateur? that it's a possibility, not a definite fact??
and i also stated that his type is not the reason the peace mov't is weak. it could have had 10 million protestors in Washington DC and the US still would have invaded Iraq, the Dems would have capitulated...

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 10:07 AM
There's a story to be told about the maybe/maybe-not anti-semitism in several fringe groups on campus. (ME Studies, SJP, and International Socialists.) But to tar every Berkeley student, as this article does, as either anti-semitic or blase about it is stupid.

Well I'd go easy on these writers. These schools even at their most Idiotarian zeniths have a very silent majority of students who just have better things to do. They'll sneer and condemn them at the cafeteria table and in their study groups. But getting out the voice against people they often see as worthless in the real world just ain't gonna be high on their to-do list. Consciousness raising isn't as important as passing Concrete Structure Design or Physical Chemistry.

Posted by: Bill at June 10, 2004 10:11 AM

have i not said clearly that it is possible given the publicly documented history of provocation by infiltrators from the FBI in the peace mov't that this guy is a provacateur? that it's a possibility, not a definite fact??

Classic conspiracy theorist MO. Assert that X is true based on speculation and scant evidence, then when confronted say "Oh, I wasn't really saying X was true. I was just saying that it was a possibility, just putting out there you know". Now, the disinformation's been sown, other crackpots pick the idea up, but no, you weren't necessarily saying "X", no, heaven forbid.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at June 10, 2004 10:16 AM
I really have no idea Michael if the guy is a provacaateur or not. He is marginal to the peace movement and it's a good idea for organizers not to give such people attention since they distract from the purpose of demos and give the media an opportunity to claim there was 'violence' at the demo if a conflict results. Every experienced organizer will tell you the same.

Maybe this is why US protest movements have been so abysmally ineffective over the past 30 years. The movements get hijacked by the "marginal" players who can't be expelled for fear of "violence" at the demo. And people like me, who might support a core message, stay away because we don't want to be personally associated with the freaks.

If anything, the potential existence of provacateurs speaks to the necessity of getting the nuts out of your marches. It's win-win for your cause.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 10, 2004 10:20 AM

no, a conspiracy theory is usually based on a string of unrelated and unproven allegations. to state that the history of infiltratioonn of peace groups by provacateurs is unproven or unrelated to the peace movement is plain wrong.

indeed, whether he is or not is not important. how the organizers react is important. the history of infiltration is a factor in that. the rolee of the media in smearing peace mov't protestors is another. these are valid reasons to ignore those types.

almost every progressive organizing workshop or lecture is interrupted at some point by some guy going on and on about his or her pet issue, conspiracy theory etc that is unrelated to the organizing issue at hand. what do organizers do? they smile, and move the discussion back to the organizing topic at hand. it's works to avoid the distraction from the real issues that the provacateur or loony tune is trying to accomplish.

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 10:22 AM

>>>""Oh, I wasn't really saying X was true."

This is EXACTLY what Howard Dean did on the Diane Ream show. He just said that some have blamed Bush for planning 9/11, but oh, HE doesn't necessarily believe it, no!

But he put the idea into play without having to defend it.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 10:22 AM

If anything, the potential existence of provacateurs speaks to the necessity of getting the nuts out of your marches. It's win-win for your cause.

--see above comment, it's wiser to ignore them since their goal is distraction from real issues.

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 10:23 AM

But he put the idea into play without having to defend it

--sounds like matt drudge.

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 10:24 AM

Kevin: Point being, why did you use that EBE article as your only source?

Fair enough question, but understand this is an opinion piece about PC more than it is about Berkeley. (I didn't write the title.)

See my post from two days ago for more of the same sort of thing. It's an ongoing peeve of mine. The Berkeley article was just a jump-off point.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 10:24 AM

>>>"--sounds like matt drudge."

You mean like Monica's blowjob? The story that everybody else shelved until HE broke it?

Back up your accusation or else you're no better than Dean.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 10:28 AM

For the record, I agree completely with BK. A careful reading of what I wrote should make that perfectly evident. Nasty-counter stuff happens, but there is no evidence here. End of story.

On PC.
I dont dispute for one second the ugliness of the incidenct Michael describes, nor the need to denounce them. I denounce them.

Having said that, I take issue with the tenor of the PC aspects of the discussion. I dont think Michael is really talking about PC - he is using the term to describe a group of young people, or a subculture of young people, who are engaged in the messy and difficult process of trying to apply their values to a confusing world. And in this case, they are getting lost. This is a constant, indeed probably necessary process, that everyone who tries to think about big issues, that they dont really have much personal involvement in, goes through on a regular basis. It is part of the process of education - trial and error.

It has nothing to do with PC per se.

To me, PC is the compulsion to shun certain language, certain conceptions of the world, in an effort to construct ones own consistent and coherent world view. It is a problem because it amounts to a refusal to engage with ones opponent, but tries rather to simply write them out of the script. Although the term has been siezed by the rightwing as a great rhetorical tool, it is in fact a HUMAN problem - something that afflicts individuals and movements of every stripe - and is practiced as vigorously by elements of the right as of the left.

So I feel that Michael has done a good job of exposing a very troubling situation, and that he is right to turn over the rock so we can see the critters scramble. But the PC thread through the piece is inappropriate I think, because it doesnt accurately characterize the problem at hand, nor does it accurately characterize what PC really is all about.

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 10:29 AM

Noche!

I asked you to knock it off. You're derailing this discussion to distract everyone, and you're doing it on purpose. Post one more time about "provacateurs" on this thread and you're banned. I'm serious. This is my Web site, and this discussion is about radical Middle Eastern politics and Political Correctness. Not the FBI.

Both Kevin and SoCalJustice (see first post) brought new and interesting information to the discussion. You're doing exactly the opposite. You're sucking the oxygen out of the room. Stop.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 10:30 AM

>>>"see above comment, it's wiser to ignore them since their goal is distraction from real issues."

Obviously ignoring them isn't working. You've been identified with those freaks by the population at large. It's why you'll always be fringe.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 10:30 AM

no i mean like his false report that the DSA was sending people to minnesota to illegally vote for wellstone, for one.

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 10:31 AM

noche, ignoring some things means passive endorsement of them. Which is exactly how "Smash the Jewish State" ends up being what people take away from your protests.

Useful idiots.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 10, 2004 10:32 AM

BTW, when I said "Both Kevin and SoCalJustice (see first post) brought new and interesting information to the discussion" what I mean is that they provided information (with links) that runs counter to my argument that is worth taking seriously and is relevant to the discussion.

I'm not right about everything, and I appreciate that kind of feedback.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 10:34 AM

Obviously ignoring them isn't working. You've been identified with those freaks by the population at large. It's why you'll always be fringe.

--not really, there's no evidence in polls that people think that the antiwar protestors are as you describe them. and that is desptite the smear jobs in the media, be they from CNN or FOX, MSNBC...
like i said there could have been 10 million in the streets and the US still would have invaded Iraq.

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 10:35 AM

noche, ignoring some things means passive endorsement of them. Which is exactly how "Smash the Jewish State" ends up being what people take away from your protests.

--no, ignoring them is the smart thing to do, especially if they are provacateurs. and it is a good way of helping make it more likely the media won't notice them also. ask any experienced organizer, they'll tell you the same.

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 10:37 AM

>>>"--not really, there's no evidence in polls that people think that the antiwar protestors are as you describe them."

What polls are you talking about? The fact that your protests are freak shows more befitting Gay Pride day should tell you something shouldn't it?

But speaking of polls, Bush has had the worst 6 months in his presidency and Kerry still can't take a lead. That should concern you very much, if that's what you're talking about.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 10:38 AM

It's a critical failing on the part of some left wing groups. Believing that one can sanitize ideas that are 'offensive', is as foolish as believing that one can sanitize morality that is 'offensive'. In a society whewre the freedom of the Individual is to be respected, protected and revered, it is unacceptable for anyone to force their ideas of what is correct upon another individual (as long as the idea doesn't affect the life, liberty and the persuit of happiness, (such as slavery)).

I fully support anyone's right to make any statement that they want. "The Jews are Evil" is just as valid as "Vote For Bush in '04". I don't agree with either statement, but I do believe that people who think such things should be allowed to say what they think. I fully support people who don't believe such things to go to protests and defend their side of the issue... thats democracy folks!

Throwing bricks through windows has been done for many years as an act of civil disobedience, most European countries have had years of experience with Anarchists, who pull this sort of thing (of course, they are about as likely to use a Malatov as a brick). Graffitti is the same. As long as students don't start throwing rocks at Jewish students, try to incite mob violence or try to burn down a frat house that is mostly jewish, I say leave them to their ideas, focus on your ideas and hopefully, enough Americans will have the sense to minimize the idiot impact on our society.

The KKK, was at one time very active in the area I grew up in. There was a law in the town I lived in that forbade 'Negros' to be in the city after sunset. This was in Ohio. Of course, there was no enforcement of such a law, it had simply never been removed (it is now removed).

These days, the Klan is nearly non-existant, the people of the area simply trivialized them to the point of extinction. Burnt crosses were recieved with disgust and many people of the area would show up to help remove the charred remains. If it got covered in the news, it was covered with scorn. After most people looking at "Bubba Klan" as a bunch of ignorant rednecks, Bubba figured out that he should stop.

The people didn't try to stop the klan, they just looked at them as relics of some past era.

Its stuff like that, which gives me the slight glimmer of hope for America...

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 10, 2004 10:39 AM

The first poster has it so right. Nothing is so radical as bored middle class white kids.

Posted by: Eric Blair at June 10, 2004 10:43 AM

I'll give ya a great example of why provacateurs, be they gov't hires or just loonies, should be ignored. i was involved in an occupation of the university of hawaii library in 1994 because the administration closed it on saturdays to 'save money'. the ovrnight occupation was going very smoothly and way more succcessfully than anticipated, easliy double the crowd showed up than we anticipated.
around 10 p.m. or so, seveal hours into the ovenight occupation (ending the next morning on schedule), the head of campus security started going around to other leaders of the demo asking if they could be sure there wasn't going to be any violence, he said there were rumors there might be some violence. The other organizers were really thrown off by this and not sure what to do and running around trying to find out what was going on with the 'vioence' issue? was it going to happen, how could we be sure?? When I heard about this I went straight to the security chief and asked if he had any good reason to believe this might happen and he said he just heard things. I told him I hadn't heard anything and of course we couldn't make any guarantees of anything based on rumors that he had 'heard'. I was almost 100% sure he was just making the stuff up. I was correct, it was nonsense, once i told him we couldn't make any guarantees about anything and we wouldn't be spending our time finding out about these rumors, but that he was welcome to do something if there should be violence, there was no more point to his getting us all nervous and running around checking on 'vioence rumors' when the main issue at hand was the library and hours it was to be opened.

The demo worked out well, got good media coverage--they had no idea about these 'rumors' since we made nothing ofthem--the library staff supported the occupation, and we left the place spotless (in anticipation of media looking for evidence of chaos in the aftermath of the protest)...

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 10:46 AM

What polls are you talking about? The fact that your protests are freak shows more befitting Gay Pride day should tell you something shouldn't it?

--you might want to switch from FOX News coverage to CSPAN.

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 10:47 AM

Michael, maybe the threadjacking here is a good example of PC in action. Certain topics are not permissable to discuss, therefore another topic is raised.

I'm serious. How did we get from PC blind spots to FBI dirty tricks? And why is it important that we move from PC blind spots to dirty tricks?

Time to see if anyone has done research on the relationship between Fessinger's Cognitive Dissonance theory and the rise and fall of political movements.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 10, 2004 10:47 AM

hrowing bricks through windows has been done for many years as an act of civil disobedience, most European countries have had years of experience with Anarchists, who pull this sort of thing (of course, they are about as likely to use a Malatov as a brick)

--you never read about the role of the police provacateurs at the Genoa protests?

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 10:48 AM

Absolutely right, Eric. I've been one of those kids. I've seen boredom cause a lot of evil in young adults' lives, including my own. If you're bored because you don't know how to bring about lasting pleasure in your life, then, as Theordore Dalrymple has pointed out, you'll end up doing things that cause pain, instead: frequent heavy drinking, vandalism, engaging in anti-social causes and behaviors, etc. Anything to relieve the unbearable boredom.

Posted by: Jim at June 10, 2004 10:49 AM

I'm serious. How did we get from PC blind spots to FBI dirty tricks?

--because many of the classic things that you claim the left is 'blind' to are actions that have been associated with police provacateurs in the recent past, here and in other countries. you seem to want no discussion of such things.

PC today is being a Republican anyhow.

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 10:51 AM

Noche,

I have no doubt that groups (be they government or political (left or right)) send instigators into situations where they may be of use to give the opposition a black eye. However, I very much doubt if all (or even most) of the damage was done by instigators... its quite likely that students, or at least protesters are doing some (if not all) of this crap. Instigators usually will only act if they can be assured of a strong negative reaction, spraypaint and busted windows only attract the attention of those who don't support the movement anyway and are looking for reasons to deride their opposition.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 10, 2004 10:55 AM

noche, the guy carrying the "Smash the Jewish State" was more than a rumor to the people next to him.

I don't want to be part of that march, no matter what the overt cause, if I have to accept that creep as my comrade.

So, no matter what my politics, you won't see me at one of your marches (or for that matter responding to any more of your silly paranoid statements.) Guess you've won one for the pro-nutcracker crowd.

buh-bye.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 10, 2004 10:58 AM

Tosk, it's entirely possible that those are not the acts of provacateurs. it is interesting though that a similar incident of spray painting occurred at Binghamton Univ. in the late 1980's and it turned out to have been done by the leader of the Jewish Student Union. Not every incident like that conformst to that trend, but there ya are anyway.
In any event, it's not that important if such persons are infiltrators or, as in the case of the fellow at binghamton U, just someone with major issues and in need of psychiatric help, they have little to do with the peace movement. most peace movement activity takes place in churches in the United States, though ya'd never know it from the discussions here.
now, if ya wanna go giving attention to freaks or extremists at the marches, well that just draws the attention of the media, who love to report on such stuff and ignore substantive issues the protest is designed to call attention to.

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 11:04 AM

So, no matter what my politics, you won't see me at one of your marches (or for that matter responding to any more of your silly paranoid statements.)

--talk to any experienced labor or civil rights organizer and then tell me if my views are 'paranoiac' or much the same as theirs.

Posted by: noche at June 10, 2004 11:06 AM

Noche,

You are banned for trolling. I asked you twice to knock it off and you act as though I'm not even here.

You are free to troll elsewhere.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 11:26 AM

Maybe your views in and of themselves aren't "paranoiac", but scores of posts on the same subject would lead one to believe otherwise. We get the point.

Posted by: Rick W. at June 10, 2004 11:42 AM

>>>"You are banned for trolling. I asked you twice to knock it off and you act as though I'm not even here"

In all fairness to the troll, he was being fed.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 11:48 AM

Chuck, David, thanks, for commenting, I didn't mean the Italian blackshirts. It was the as hitler's special guard that came into conflict with the older Brownshirt organization. That these were both personality cults with no methods of succession, and that Hitler solved it with murder is beside the point here, the brownshirts are the point, this bunch had to operate in the democracy that voluntarily dissolved itself in favor of dictatorship. The brownshirts made this option viable by using the freedoms of democracy to keep the press agitated until the entire nation felt in need of some 'order'. The brownshirts were vandals, rough-up-people-at-rallies type thugs. Murder and insurrection all came late in the Brownshirt game, after a decade or so of 'preparation of the public' via incremental escalation of exploiting all the cracks in the culture's institutions. These cracks were of course the individual freedoms of choice that had been that system's political expression of confidence that the best of human nature could be expressed only if the worst was also allowed. Same idea that captured a few of our Founding Fathers, that bad behavior as a matter of taste couldn't all be punishable by the laws of a democratic state, and the flaw that could kill the whole experiment existed precisely there, on that small point. Their only answer was that people had to be kept from ignorance, somehow, as the well-known hatreds all brew up in that state-of-being. The distiction between the 'public' and the 'private' was stressed as the remedy to the charge of dishonesty attaching to hiding hatreds. Hate all you want, if you must, but, do it in private, the public forum was reserved for the higher discourse of purpose and action, not exposure of the results of one's navel-gazing grievance-nursing. The 'noble-savage'(thank you, Rousseau) who places honesty above all else is simultaneously making a plea that his ideas remain always at the splintered fringe, because, if he were to succeed, then the next person over might decide that honesty required that he be strung up on the nearest tree or streetlamp.

Posted by: Buddy Larsen at June 10, 2004 11:57 AM

Amen he was being fed. There are a dozen here that deserve banning.

Did anyone notice that I posted a completely-on-target reflection of Michael's piece, in which I took issue with the very issue that he claims is central - the nature of, and influence of PC in political dynamics?

And I would be curious to know how Michael might reframe his argument in light of some of the factual matters that Kevin has brought up.

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 12:02 PM

Michael, maybe Tano is right, and you need to go to a harsher system of figuring out who to ban. I suggest you borrow a line from Monty Burns: Everyone is banned unless they can tell you why they shouldn't be banned, without using the letter "e".

Posted by: jeremy at June 10, 2004 12:07 PM

There are a dozen here that deserve banning.

Please tell us Tano who else should be banned and why? Did anyone us hijack the thread with some tangential issue and post ad infinitum about it despite repeated explicit warning from the host?

Posted by: Eric Deamer at June 10, 2004 12:30 PM

Eric,
Yes, y'all did. And you are continuing. What can one call it when you start a new line of inquiry of me - asking me to discuss at length the issue of banning?

The issue is Michael's views on PC and the Berkely situation, as laid out in his article.
Deal with that, or you be a troll.

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 12:50 PM

Yes, y'all did.

This is a false accusation, particularly using a plural form of "you". The banee in question brought up the whole FBI plant concept and multiple people (including me in only 1 or 2 instances) debunked his conspiracy-mongering nonsense. The warnings from MJT which I refer to were directed only at the banee in question (let us not speak of him by "name") and he still didn't relent. Please read what someone has written thoroughly before you choose to respond.

I certainly realize that this a tangential issue, but I thought your assertion that "a dozen should be banned" was rather revealing. Since you haven't persuasively made the case that anyone other than our late, unlamented banee was engaging in trolling behavior, I'm curious as to what leads you to that opinion. I daresay that you'd like to see anyone banned who vigorously defends a point-of-view contrary to your own. That's conjecture on my part I realize, but I don't see any other persuasive interpretation of your statement.

As the article in question dealt with the political/intellectual culture on college campuses, which has long included the censoring of non-leftist points of view (through destroying or stealing runs of conservative newspapers, through firing the writers of politically incorrect op-eds, through the shouting down or scaring away of non-leftist campus speakers, through bizarre Kafkaesque persecution of invididual students for "insensitive" language, or commiting "micro-aggressions" etc.) I don't think this issue is entirely unrelated.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at June 10, 2004 01:05 PM

Tano, Eric is not a troll.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 01:08 PM

Because trolling and troll-feeding becomes a vicious circle, Michael should have warned the troll feeders too, that's all I'm saying.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 01:08 PM

Yes, David is right about that. I thought it went without saying, but I'll keep it in mind for next time.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 01:35 PM

OK folks.
Sorry Michael, but I did my part. No one here seems interested in your article. I am, but that aint enough.

So let me say my piece about Eric's new thread.

It is impossible for one person to hijack a thread. A lonely voice can remain just that.
Even with two people, it is merely a private side conversation. A thread isnt hijacked until most people participate. And when that happens, everyone who participates is equally guilty. No one is obliged to respond to any particular post.

Lets take some personal responsibility here.

This started because noche raised a related, but tangential point. He was engaged by others, and attacked. I came to his defense but also acknowledged Michaels point that the issue was not relevant without evidence. For some reason Michael chose to focus on me, and noche, with his request that we drop the issue. I, seemingly alone around here, complied. My next offering was directly to the point of his article. But almost everyone else seemed more interested in noches subject.

I was not serious about banning dozens of people. It was an offhand remark which meant to merely point out that everyone who engaged noche's subject was equally guilty of thread-hijacking as he was. Once again, no one was obliged to discuss the matter with him.

And Michael, I did not say that Eric was necessarily a troll. I said that if he continued to ignore the issue at hand, and to start new lines of inquiry on unrelated issues, then he would be a troll. Geez, I was just trying to help you out....

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 01:39 PM

Just to chip in here, one of my favourite sites, Television Without Pity, has a very strong anti-troll policy. Part of it states: DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS! At times, this can be an incredibly difficult policy to follow, especially with a really bad troll. You just have to get in there with that one post that will fix him but good. I've done it myself. Problem is, it almost never works. Let's just try our best to ignore them.

Posted by: Dave at June 10, 2004 01:44 PM

>>>"No one here seems interested in your article."

I personally thought it was his best article yet. Unfortunately, you arrived late in the game and we were all but spent feeding the troll by the time you got here.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 01:44 PM

As one of the feeders, I apologize for adding fuel to the oxygen-sucking fire.

Not my first transgression in this area. I'll work on being better.

If PC is dead, it's dead like the dinosaur that doesn't know it's heart has stopped beating. Tano, I agree that Political Correctness springs from a universal desire that the world make sense, but there are better ways worse ways to satisfy that desire.

PC at bottom is a "Monkey Hear No Evil, Monkey See No Evil, Monkey Speak No Evil" approach. What makes PC a bad method is that Evil doesn't care much about the monkey, except as a possible food source. It leaves its proponents with no positively adapt to changing conditions.

If anti-Semitism at Berkely is fading, that is definitely a good thing. Understanding the mechanisms that allowed it to grow is another good thing. And reviewing what has been lost along with the bathwater is important too. As Kevin points out:

If anything, the interesting story is how SJP's extremist tactics and wink wink "anti-Zionist" rhetoric have alienated the broad mass of students in the past few years. Whereas only a few years ago the broad mass of students were apathetic, the civility and reasonableness of the pro-Israeli groups have made them pre-eminent over anti-Israeli groups, who just seem crazed.

Picking and choosing which hate speech is bad and which is okay can be actively harmful to your cause. In this case, people who might be lobbying for a better deal for the Palestinians are now out of the equation. Which is of course a net loss for the Palestinian on the street.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 10, 2004 01:50 PM

>>>"If anti-Semitism at Berkely is fading, that is definitely a good thing."

At the risk of being "un-PC", anti-semitism won't fade at Berkeley, or anywhere else, as long as Arabs and muslims are given an unrestricted podium. Sorry to have to break it to you, but that's a fact. The fact that they're brown and "oppressed" should not give them a right to spew hatred, but the Left is far from figuring that out. In fact, as I recall from my own Leftist days, minorities aren't even able to be racist because they are "oppressed"; which basically means the Left will never call them out on their racism or anti-semitism. It won't fade because the Left doesn't have the inclination to challenge brown people where they deserve to be challenged.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 01:57 PM

I dont think PC is dead, nor should it be killed entirely.

I'm gonna take a chance here and hope that folks are interested in a serious discussion, not just a pile-on on a favorite boogeyman.

PC started because of a felt need by the academic community to maintain an environment conducive to free speech and the interplay of ideas. Freedom is not lisence, it only flourishes within certain constraints. The problem to be dealt with was the rise of a certain breed of aggressive obnoxious bullys who were intimidating the people they didnt like or agree with. And thus inhibiting the free exchange of ideas. And so PC was a method to create a safe place for discussion.

Clearly a big potential slippery slope situation (life in general is a slippery slope).

There is an underlying dynamic model that seems to fit the life cycle of ideas - be they in the sciences, politics, or just about anything else. A problem arises - a solution is formulated - it seems to work - the solution is then viewed as a magic key to make the world better - the solution is then applied in every concievable situation - it soon becomes overapplied - a reaction sets in - and it gets stuffed back into its box.

If the reaction is not strong enough, the overextended solution hangs out there causing all manner of new problems. If the reaction is too strong, the solution is destroyed and abandonded even in those cases where it was properly employed, and so the original problem returns. In the ideal, the solution is put back into the precise box in which it can work effectivly.

The PC movement follows this model. It worked well for a while, then became overextended. It needs to be smacked back down into its proper role. But it would be nice if proponents and opponents could have the larger vision of the roles they are playing. But that rarely happens in this world. The proponents still think that they have a magic key to make the world better, and the opponents think they are beating back some spawn of the devils mind that needs to be obliterated.

Fortunatly in a democracy we have that great buffering force of people who are not activists on either side. They recognize that obnoxious bullies exist, and they will not want to see them fluorish. And they also see all the silliness that has resulted from overuse of PC thinking. So hopefully the balance is being found.

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 02:09 PM

David, david, david,,,,,

"The fact that they're brown and "oppressed" should not give them a right to spew hatred, but the Left is far from figuring that out"

Do you not understand that this is EXACTLY the mentality of PC?

They should not be allowed to spew hatred.

That could be taken verbatim from page 1 of the PC Bible. That was EXACTLY what the whole point of PC was - to curtail "hate speech" which was seen as a force for intimidation and the silencing of speech.

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 02:13 PM

David writes: The fact that they're brown and "oppressed" should not give them a right to spew hatred, but the Left is far from figuring that out.

You don't think that Louis Farrakhan has been called out for his racism and anti-Semitism by many people on "the Left"?

As a Democrat, I was ashamed that, during the primaries, no Democratic candidate (including DLC types like Lieberman and Edwards) called out Al Sharpton for his history of race baiting, and rather, he was treated as a grand, eloquent spokesman "for the people" at all the debates.

That's political correctness in action, and it was pretty sad.

And as sad as Sharpton's unquestioned ascendancy as the "conscience" of the debates was, I still think there's a difference between how people regard his level of bigotry and the blatant hate-mongering of Farrakhan.

I see what your saying, and it says a lot that I have to cite such an extreme example as Farrakhan to even attempt (perhaps not even successfully) to counter your point.

But I remember listening to Spike Lee say that black people "can't be racist" and thinking he was insane. But a lot of people don't think he's insane.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 10, 2004 02:14 PM

PC started because of a felt need by the academic community to maintain an environment conducive to free speech and the interplay of ideas.

That is entirely incorrect. PC was started in an effort to protect a victim class from perceived oppression by the majority. PC did not give the victim class more speech; it restricted the speech of the majority.

The problem to be dealt with was the rise of a certain breed of aggressive obnoxious bullys who were intimidating the people they didnt like or agree with.

This was the logical conclusion to PC, which gave birth to these agressive obnoxious bullies who are currently intimidating people they don't like or consider "racist."

The PC movement follows this model. It worked well for a while, then became overextended. It needs to be smacked back down into its proper role.

You are correct. Like all Leftist projects, it became a monster, and it needs to be slain.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 02:17 PM

Tano,

point well taken. Then they should be allowed to spew their hatred, and you'll be responsible for it when you allow them to use your rallies and podiums as their forum. Fair?

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 02:22 PM

No David,
I disagree with you on all points.

First this exchange:
"PC started because of a felt need by the academic community to maintain an environment conducive to free speech and the interplay of ideas.

That is entirely incorrect. PC was started in an effort to protect a victim class from perceived oppression by the majority. PC did not give the victim class more speech; it restricted the speech of the majority"

Not only was I correct, your argument does nothing to even counter it. You identify a "victim" class and a majority - but what was the victimization, and what was the majority doing? It was not a majority causing the problem, unless of course you want to blame all white people for the words of some racist white people. The racists were a minority - a smaller group (I hope and suspect) than their "victims". And curtailing the hate speech of racists does not impinge on the freedom of the majority who would never do that anyway - except in an abstract sense.

"This was the logical conclusion to PC, which gave birth to these agressive obnoxious bullies who are currently intimidating people they don't like or consider "racist."

This is completely wrong. PC was an attempt to solve a problem. It would never have arose without the prior existence of the problem. And what kind of total rejection of any sense of responsibility is it to claim that bullies arise as a result of attempts to discipline them?

As my second post to you points out, you seem not to realize that the Palestinian-supporting hate mongerers are the exact analog of the white racist hate mongerers who created the original problem. And your proposed solution to the new situation followed exactly the line that other well meaning decent people did way back then when they started PC.

So I hope you can realize that the PC impulse is not some alien evil - it lurks in your heart and in the heart of every decent person. It is the impulse to tell the hate-mongering bully to shut the hell up. And the conflict arises of course - in that free speech means free speech for obnoxious bullies too.
Is there a limit? Are there situations where a school administrator, for instance, is right in telling some people to shut up so that everyone can feel welcome to particpate?

These are the real issues that need to be worked out.

As to your final post - it leaves me wondering what you actually believe. Do you think hatemongerers should be shut up or not? If yes, then you are Mr. PC. If no, then why try to blame me in advance for the words of people whose right to speak you are defending?

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 02:39 PM

Actually, I want the hatemongers to be as loud as possible so I know where they're at.

In all seriousness, there are other ways of protecting the rights of some than by supressing the rights of others. Making something "out of bounds" tends to just drive it out of sight. Or worse (and I think this is what we were talking about earlier) making some topics off-limits gives cover to new and unanticipated problems.

The practical problem of having a civil debate over divisive issues is nothing new. That's why we have these:

http://www.robertsrules.com/

Tano, my take is that it's hard to come up with a suppressive technique that doesn't evolve into an oppressive one. So we should avoid suppression, and focus on strengthening the things we want to promote instead.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 10, 2004 02:48 PM

Tano,

Re my last post, there's a difference between sharing my podium with a hater vs telling him to shut up. If he wants to speak, I won't censor him, but he can find his own podium. The Left won't do that, they share the podium with these poor little innocent lambs because of the reasons I've stated; it is therefore their responsibility. But hell will freeze over before they share the podium with a rightwing skinhead though.

Re the "problem" the PC addressed, it was racism towards minorities, not their lack of speech. If it was the lack of speech that it addressed, I fail to see how minorities have more speech today than in the mid-80's when PC became institutionalized. Lack of speech, however, has been a problem ever since PC.

But this much I'll give you, PC does lurk within the hearts of all people.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 02:54 PM

And David, here I will disagree with you. I think the best thing to do with a hater is let them talk, then take them down.

People thought Ross Perot was dandy until they actually got to listen to him for a while.

Pat Buchannon was popular when he could hide behind sniping. Once he had to start proposing solutions the audience effectively booed him off stage.

The only reason Sharpton has a podium is because no one will call him on his crap (most of it old, admittedly, but it's still out there, and it still begs to be addressed.)

The best treatment for irrationality is open, honest debate. Promote it.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 10, 2004 03:06 PM

David,
PC originated on college campuses, spurred by administrators who sensed that minorities were being intimidated by hate speech. There was merit to the charge. Administrators have a responsibility to maintain an environment conducive to full participation by all people, not just the loud and obnoxious. So it really was an attempt to foster speech and participation, at least at the beginning.

At this level, I support the notion. When it is over-applied to speech which is not really intimidating, or extended outside the classroom to the society at large, it becomes problematical, and gives rise to all the horror-anectdotes we hear about all the time.

I certainly do not support the notion when overapplied, but I do think we need to keep the context in mind.

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 03:07 PM

Or, if your enemy insists on hanging himself, don't be shy about giving him rope.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 10, 2004 03:08 PM

Mark,
I basically agree with you - especially on the larger society-wide scale. There still is the issue of participaton in classrooms etc. - the "safe space" for exploring ideas etc. which I think raises a different set of concerns.

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 03:09 PM

Sorry Tano, cross posted.

The problem with limiting PC to the classrooms, Tano, is that classrooms are supposed to be where young people learn how to think for themselves. Protecting one group by supressing another (even if you and I agree that the second group sucks) doesn't teach a useful skill to the first group.

It just says the best way to win an argument is apply a boot to the back of someone's neck.

Not a good lesson.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 10, 2004 03:11 PM

The problem with PC is that it was directed at groups of people rather than at types of conduct. Only white males could hate and only minorities could be hated; the effect of this is that charges of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. could be launched any time someone said something a minority did not like, while members of those same minorities could say anything at all without consequence. PC was not directed at creating an environment free from hate, it was directed at creating an environment where certain opinions were suppressed in favor of certain others. If the desire was to create an environment free from hate, it would be quite simple to do so with a neutral civility rule; academic institutions did so (successfully) for years.

Also, the idea that PC addressed a specific problem is laughable. If you think racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. was worse in the 80's than in the decades before the 80's, you do not live in the real world. By the 1980s, these problems were moving in the right direction.

The reality is that PC was a naked attempt to suppress thought in an environment where thought is supposed to be encouraged.

Posted by: Ben at June 10, 2004 03:23 PM

I can appreciate the impulse behind PC which is, I think, as Tano says, the impulse to tell a hatemongering bully to go to Hell. There is a lot to be said for making bigotry socially unacceptable. That's a lot of PC what is about, and the fact that this seems to be lacking right now in Berkeley is precisely the problem I was getting at in my article. PC is failing on its own terms.

The other problems with PC are, of course, when it's used to stifle freedom of speech, and when PC people go awry and hysterically accuse non-racist people of being racist for bogus reasons.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 03:31 PM

Just to be clear, I've never liked PC, not for a second. But it's never bugged me as much as it does now. My post above wasn't meant as a defense of PC, just a defense of one of the impulses behind it. I don't see anything wrong with zero tolerance for racism if it's carried out properly - ie, honestly and in a non-authoritarian way.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 03:57 PM

So Michael,
Do you think that PC should succeed on its own terms?

If the jewish community on some campus comes under attack - perhaps not physical, but language, including grafitti and some of the ugly stuff you mentioned - should the administration do something about it? Over and above the simple "property destruction" issues.

Let me also offer for consideration the explanation that I've heard for the "blacks cant be racist" argument that socal mentioned, and that is being indirectly alluded to by others.
I spent four years in a near-majority black college, so I have had this discussion many times.

I first point out that I dont agree with the explanation - but it is not really "insane" as socal seems to indicate.

It sounds insane because it seems to be saying that blacks are immune from the psychological ability to hate or discriminate. But that is not what the proponents are arguing. They basically have a different definition of what racism means.

They are perfectly willing to admit that blacks can be as hateful and discriminatory as anyone else. But they hold to a definition of "racism" as being more than just that. The definition entails not only the attitude, but the application of the attitude, as oppression, in a political context.
IOW, "racist" is a political term, like socialist, or fascist - and it refers to a system of politics that discriminates and oppresses on the basis of race. Under that definition, blacks cannot be racist simply because they cannot form a governing majority and implement a race-based oppressive regime.

It comes down to a situation of talking past one another. Many blacks, when accused of racism, will be incredulous - as in "how can you think that I am in any position to oppress you"? Where as most euro people are simply trying to make a point about the person's psychological state of mind.

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 04:11 PM

Mark,
I sympathize with your distaste for speech suppression, and the impulse to draw a strict line. But I do think there are issues for classrooms etc. I have been in positions to lead classroom discussions (science, not politics) and if the goal is to foster a full airing of all possible positions, it does take active management of the discussion.
Some will be loud and aggressive, others will be shy and lack confidence, and some will be "trolls", always trying to lead things in a different direction. All of this is normal, and doesnt require PC necessarily. But I certainly can imagine, especially in political discussions, where you may have particularly aggressive and disrespectful people who try, consciouly or unconsiouly to dominate the conversation or shut others up.

PC is essentially nothing more that trying to enforce some civility. And some civility IS necessary for the free exchange of ideas. Teaching civility was certainly part of the mission of educational institutions for a very long time.

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 04:22 PM

Oh, and let me just add - to flesh out the context around Michael's point about charges of racism.

In the definitions I explained above, a typical 'white' person might believe that someone is a racist if they hate people of another race. Under the alternative defintion, a racist is someone who, activly or passivly, supports the continuation of a political system that is oppressive in a racially discriminatory manner - irrespective of what is in that person's heart.

I think this lies at the heart of the incomprehension sometimes about charges of racism.

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 04:51 PM

Tano:

So you don't agree with the given explanation (I was aware of it, as Spike Lee gave it when he was questioned) that African Americans "can't be racist."

I don't either.

But anyone who would claim that Louis Farrakhan (and some of his deputies like Khalid Muhammad) cannot be racist, but merely hateful or discriminatory, because he's "black," is, IMO, quite insane, the American "system of politics" notwithstanding.

It's quite the tortured definition. And I'm sorry if my use of the word "insane" was offensive to you. I think it's clear I was using it in a colloquial, rather than in a clinical, sense.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 10, 2004 04:58 PM

Tano writes: In the definitions I explained above, a typical 'white' person might believe that someone is a racist if they hate people of another race.

Or a typical 'person' might believe that someone is a racist if they hate people of another race.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 10, 2004 05:02 PM

>>>"The reality is that PC was a naked attempt to suppress thought in an environment where thought is supposed to be encouraged."

I agree with you entirely. Diversity on college campuses has always been of the racial variety only. Intellectual diversity, on the other hand, has received only lip service. It was therefore inevitable that eventually somebody would try to codify this narrow spectrum of thought.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 05:04 PM

>>>"My post above wasn't meant as a defense of PC, just a defense of one of the impulses behind it."

The path to hell has always been paved with good intentions, and the Left is all about good intentions.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 05:06 PM

Skinheads, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Klansman aren't behind this, as would have been expected before Al Qaeda crashed airplanes into our buildings. Palestinian nationalism is the hot new cause for the cool kids, and the new (or is it old?) anti-Semitism is the handiwork of the far-left and their radical campus friends from the Middle East.

Are you saying the "far-left" committed the acts of vandalism? How do you know who's behind those acts? Have there been arrests, convictions?

For the record, the acts are disgusting, no matter who did them. I'm just curious how it is that you're so sure the "far-left" is "behind" them and not, say, skinheads.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at June 10, 2004 05:09 PM

socal,
I dont really understand your point. If someone claims that Farrakhan cant be a racist because he will never be in a position to institute a race-based political regime, then it seems to me that they would be correct - under that defintion.

Yet you insist they would be insane - colloquially speaking.

I dont see why. They would only be insane if they meant what you mean when you use the term.
But they dont.

I disagree with their definition because I have used the word in one particular way all my life, and it seems hard to change now. But I actually see the sense of their definition - we have plenty of terms to describe the psychological attitude (hate, bias, prejudice etc.) but the no other good one to describe the political sense (a governmental structure established to enforce racial discrimination).

I dont know what the historical usage of the term is - whether psychological or political. Anyone know?

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 05:10 PM

>>>"PC is essentially nothing more that trying to enforce some civility. And some civility IS necessary for the free exchange of ideas."

This "civility" was, and has always been, a one-way street when it comes to PC. If civility was the goal, I doubt it would be so lopsided.

Suppression was the goal, nothing more nor less; victory over the forces of "evil" and conservatism.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 05:13 PM

Tano,

Good explanation for the reason people sometimes talk past each other.

I think the idea that non-white's can be racist is wrong no matter which way you slice it, but it does help to understand what people who say that actually mean.

After 9/11, I think a similar notion that Islamic hate isn't "oppressive" or whatever is insane. Osama bin Laden may not have oppressed us, but he sure did kill a lot of us, and he and his pals oppressed plenty of people elsewhere.

As to your question, do I think Political Correctness should succeed on its own terms? No, I don't. I've been an opponent of PC ever since the first day I heard of it in college. But I would prefer PC to succeed on its own term than be the farce it has become. If, that is, I had to choose between the two.

If it were up to me, PC would just go away and be replaced by the widely shared idea (which already exists) that racism is both bad and socially unacceptable.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 05:16 PM

Tano writes: I dont really understand your point.

No kidding.

My point is that particular definition of racism is, as I wrote earlier, "tortured," making it, in a colloquial sense, insane.

Even taking into account that (IMO, tortured) definition, there are plenty of African Americans in the U.S. who are in positions of wealth and power, and as such, can abuse our system in a racist manner, just like anyone else (regardless of one's race) can.

you write: They would only be insane if they meant what you mean when you use the term. But they dont.

What? I'm saying their "tortured" and contorted definition or what constitutes the ability to be racist is, in and of itself, (colloquially speaking) insane.

Is that really so hard to understand?

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 10, 2004 05:21 PM

Well Michael,
I wonder though to what extent the PC movement, at least in its early stages, played a role in helping us get to the point where racism is considered socially unacceptable. I am a bit older than you - and I certainly remember a time when racism was quite acceptable to an extent that is hard to imagine now.
Because that is what it really came down to. Saying in ways sometimes effective, sometimes crude, sometimes silly, that racial hate speech just doesnt cut it in the modern civilized world.

I know for absolute certainty that that message needed to be made in many ways for a very long time. I dont defend the excesses, and I am sure there are many, but I have lots of sympathy with the motivations. And if it did play any role in the results we see today, then it was a good thing.

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 05:33 PM

Tano: I have lots of sympathy with the motivations.

Yes, I do too. That's why I wrote that article, and also why I posted the photo of the guy with a sign that said "Smash the Jewish State."

The difference between what I did and what PC people sometimes do is that I don't think the guy with the sign should be institutionally sanctioned, I think he needs to be yelled at by a crowd of his betters and made to feel ashamed of himself.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 05:39 PM

socal,
Ease off bud.
Now I understand what you meant. OK?
Maybe I am slow. Or maybe your point was not laid out well. No need to be a nasty little snit.

So we disagree. I too found the definition insane, or bizarre when I first heard it. All I am saying is that as I have thought about it over the years, it seems to make pretty good sense. Not tortured at all.
In my own experience with the term, I sense that I first heard it in very politcal contexts. Then it quickly, or to me, simultaneously became used on a personal level. That some people claim that they always understood it strictly in the political sense, does not seem insane to me. After all, they were engaged mainly in a political struggle - getting the government to change its policies - more so than to change everyones heart.

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 05:41 PM

Myself: I think he needs to be yelled at by a crowd of his betters and made to feel ashamed of himself.

I should add that it frustrates me that I can't count on PC people to help me out on this one. I think they take this sort of thing too far, in general, but in this case they're aggravatingly soft and blase about it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 05:42 PM

Tano:

Apoligies for being a "nasty little snit."

The Laker game is about to start and I'm a bit on edge. Karl Malone's injured, Gary Payton's only scored 5 points total in the first two games, and they needed a miracle 3 pointer from Kobe just to get into overtime, at home, after getting crushed in game 1.

I really don't want to see the Lakers go down 2-1.

At any rate, I'll try to remain civil during the balance of the NBA finals, but I can't promise anything.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 10, 2004 05:51 PM

Oh damn,
I fear you are destined to be a really big snit in a few hours!

:)

Posted by: Tano at June 10, 2004 05:55 PM

Me too. The first two games weren't exactly confidence inspiring.

Time to log off and face the music.

Cheers.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 10, 2004 06:03 PM

Michael,

Ignoring all the left wing conspiracy bullshit above; Thank you for addressing idiocy and calling a spade a spade. Only someone like you who is a liberal can say these things without being called a pawn of the state. (well maybe these fools are saying that, but they just sound stupid.) If a conservative or libertarian were to say the same things he/she would be slandered as a right-wing neo-conservative Jew operative.

Posted by: J.R. at June 10, 2004 07:15 PM

Wow. That was a long, strange trip to the bottom of this thread...

I saw two posts that really caught my eye.

Fresh Air said -

"I suspect this stuff will continue until the last hippie is pushing up daisies. I went to college in the 80s, a time when there was little to protest. But that didn't stop the Leftover Sixties Peaceniks on campus from holding sit-ins, vigils and marches for an unending stream of manufactured causes".

Dave Schuler said -

"Excellent article on TCS. [I agree, by the way] But you're being far too kind. PC isn't about racism. It isn't about sexism. It isn't about hate or fear. It's about control. It's about power.

This is plain old Maoist Cultural Revolution claptrap. Deny people the right to speak because we all know how hateful people with those kinds of ideas are."

Here's my two cents: What PC has become is the sad tail-end of a populist political agenda that has run out of issues but still has a leadership looking for work. The New Deal ushered in the era of big government, and there were serious issues that affected every single citizen. Thirty percent unemployment, drought, the standing wall of institutional racism, haphazard access to medical care, regions of the country seemingly forgotten as far as power, communications, or industry was concerned...all serious problems that cried out for some sort of correction. The will of the people was heard, so the government acted.

People got used to the government doing many things they had never done before. People survived. Some prospered. An entire generation of Democrats grew up revering the New Deal the same way I feel about Reagan winning the cold war.

Problem is, the New Deal failed in its objective, which was to revitalize the U.S. economy. World War 2 did that by explosively expanding manufacturing capability and jobs to the extent that when tanks were no longer called for the lines went straight back to making cars, refrigerators, and a thousand other consumer goods that returning veterans and their families needed. Construction exploded, and not in make-work projects, but building the homes, schools, and businesses that were the result of the new crush of college-trained vets racing to leave the war behind.

The economy came back...but there were still all these government programs on the books with their own agencies and missions and after a couple of decades in place it was pretty clear that senators and congressmen were aware that there was a lot more constituent mileage in building new social security or welfare office buildings than merely appointing a new postmaster or USDA agent in their districts. Even after the war, there were the poor and the less fortunate, and yes, the lazy, and they all voted.

The civil rights struggle came to a head with the Voting and Civil Rights Acts. What was once a deadly serious road to equal citizenship based on the content of character has morphed into something seperate, some sort of obscene subset of ethnic separatist/congenital victimhoodism.

The war brought with it the flavor of revolution; economic stresses plus the defacto injustices of racism and generational poverty appealed for stern measures. Idealogues and political theorists indicted capitalism as the enemy, democracy as failed, and looked to progressive solutions. Everything was now, and every judge was ME. The answer lay in organized activism.

The constitution worked. It's thirty years on now. Racism is mostly reverse these days. The boom that began in the eighties was a tide that did lift most of the boats, and the welfare reform of the nineties lifted more. 401K's, IRA's, and private investment have largely replaced Social Security as the primary retirement fund vehicles.

The more that individuals have become able to manage their own affairs, the power of the government to stick-and-carrot electorates has diminished. I'm not worried about Uncle Sam of either party 'stealing' my social security withholding. I'm chagrined and disappointed that they've known it was unsustainable for decades and yet haven't gotten the balls to fix it.

Government does not solve problems. At best, it influences trends. The GI bill is the one entitlement ever instituted that paid back its dollar cost plus, and that's only because the class of men and women who used it chose their own careers and schools. The Civil Rights and Voting Acts were hailed as progressive...but all they really did was correct social departures from the priniciples already embodied in our constitution.

Government does not solve problems. Giving it power to interfere directly with individuals' lives and capital, even with the best of intentions, removes from those individuals not only their own opportunity to succeed but more importantly the responsibility to succeed.

They ain't driving any more. Not their problem. Now it's EVERYBODY'S problem...and if you disagree, you're a heartless, uncaring bastard.

Which brings us up to speed with PC today. Constitutionally speaking, the reach of government into individual lives overreaches the worst fears of the founders. The trend of the last twenty years has been to push back the intrusions a bit, and the result has been economic prosperity and a shallower business cycle.

I expect social security and tort reform during the second Bush administration. I am looking forward to the possibility that the federal bench may become weighted toward constitutionalists; that ought to elicit quite a squeal all by itself.

The populist progressive has run out of road. When you don't have facts to run with, sometimes the best you can do is to redefine the language of the debate.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 10, 2004 07:33 PM

JR: If a conservative or libertarian were to say the same things he/she would be slandered as a right-wing neo-conservative Jew operative.

Oh, I get called that. I've been accused of being on Ariel Sharon's payroll by people on a British Muslim discussion board. (That's my all-time favorite.)

I'm not really a liberal so much anymore anyway. I'm really more of a centrist these days, partly because I got tired of being told I wasn't a real liberal.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 07:46 PM

Oh, I get called that. I've been accused of being on Ariel Sharon's payroll by people on a British Muslim discussion board. (That's my all-time favorite.)

Speaking of which, has your check from the Zionist Masters arrived yet? Mine's late, and I'm starting to get irritated. ;-)

Posted by: Big Brother at June 10, 2004 08:11 PM

>>>"I'm not really a liberal so much anymore anyway. I'm really more of a centrist these days, partly because I got tired of being told I wasn't a real liberal."

Liberalism turned around and bit Michael in the ass, like most ex-liberals.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 08:45 PM

I went to an extremely "PC" ivy league university from 1987-1991.

My senior year, someone hung a giant banner over the steps of the student union that said "WHITE SUPREMACY NOW."

The entire campus was in shock. People were in tears. Marches were organized, seminars held, letters written, tearful confessions of personal failings made.

Many years later I was at an alum party in NYC talking to cute asian girl named Kimi. Turned out her boyfriend - nickname "Malcom" (short for Malcolm X, cuz he was a radical deconstructionist black dude) was the one who hung up the banner.

Did it 'cause he wanted to "provoke discussion."

Does that make him a "provocateur"?

Posted by: Mr. Spock at June 10, 2004 09:32 PM

It makes him a total fucking idiot.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 09:52 PM

Mr. Spock,

Are you telling me Jews are spray-painting swastikas at Berkeley and throwing bricks through the front door at Hillel?

Maybe next you'll tell me they're vandalizing their own cemetaries in France. And, hey, maybe next week you'll come over here and say they're blowing up their own children on busses in Tel Aviv.

I would not be a bit surprised to watch you do any of those things since you've already gotten started.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2004 11:08 PM

(Whew. If there's one single lesson I derive from this thread, it's "don't argue with calibar, under whatever name he or she is posting this week". Doing so turns perfectly good discussions into crater zones.)

Posted by: jaed at June 10, 2004 11:52 PM

Whoa whoa whoa. You people are careening way off track. Did any of you actually read the East Bay Express article upon which Michael's column was based? Did you read it to the end? I can not say who I am, but I was at this event (described in the article), and I can say that the description given below is verbatim-accurate. Please read this very carefully: [The writer is describing a meeting of Muslim students at UC Berkeley]
"Abdel Malik Ali, an African-American imam affiliated with Oakland's Masjid Al Islam mosque, took the podium and sent a nervous ripple through the crowd by immediately denouncing "the white man, who is the enemy." Presently his monologue narrowed in on Daniel Pipes. Pipes, Ali declared, "can kiss our behind! Your days are numbered," Ali said sharply to an imaginary Pipes and whoever supports him. "Your days are numbered in the apartheid state of Israel and in America."

"Allahu akbar," some chanted.

"The Zionist Jews done really messed up," Ali said. "I'm talking about the Zionist Jews, not all Jews, not the Jews who are down with us -- because not all Jews are Zionists. I have to say that, otherwise I'll get called an anti-Semite."

Soft laughter shimmered through the auditorium.

Ali said the conflict between Muslims and Zionists "is an opportunity, dawg," because "we're allowed to fight against oppression. It's an act of worship. ... In America, you're mostly fighting with your tongue. But you should also learn how to fight with the sword."

Ali's remarks met with polite silence, punctuated by occasional choruses of "Allahu akbar." No protesters were visible either inside or outside the hall.

"The enemies of Islam know that when we come back to power we're gonna check 'em," Ali said before leaving. "They're gonna be checked."
...
Later that morning, Abdel Malik Ali returned to the stage. Jewelry flashed on his long delicate fingers as he outlined "the recipe for how we come to power: From an Islamic movement we graduate to an Islamic revolution, then to an Islamic state."

"Allahu akbar," came a chorus.

"We must be in power," Ali continued coolly. He rounded up his lecture by promising that "when it's all over, the only one standing is gonna be us."

"Allahu akbar."

"We ain't gonna lose. We must implement Islam as a totality," in which "Allah controls every place -- the home, the classroom, the science lab, the halls of Congress."

The weekend concluded with an evening program called "Muslim Students in the Struggle." A few officers and alumni took turns at the podium; one young man speculated about the day "when we are called upon to rock the West like it's never been rocked before." This is inevitable, he said. "Allah has promised the people that they will inherit this land."

...
He cited a Washington Post article in which Jewish leaders expressed worries "about a backlash against Jews for the Iraq war" and about the general public "blaming Jewish officials in the Bush administration for American casualties." Again, the just-catch-me smile.

"Let the backlash begin.

"Neo-cons are all Zionist Jews," he continued. He scanned the hall, wondering aloud whether Jewish infiltrators were among his listeners. ..." etc. [end of snippet from the article.]

People, you're arguing about pissy little issues re left/right, PC/racism, yadda yadda, while there is not just an elephant but a MASTODON in the living room:

Islam is overtly hell-bent on destroying our country and civilization.

Please, please please, everyone: come to your senses.

Posted by: I Will Post Only Once at June 11, 2004 12:09 AM

TmjUtah, another great post -- but I think this whole PC discussion is far too light on the connection between 3 60s problems:
racism (OK, the threads been full on this)
sexism
Vietnam/ establishment values.

PC began as college protest against the "white, male, capitalist (Christian)" establishment supported war, with too many American body-bags coming home, seemingly without end. And the protests expanded to oppose many diverse problems, in varying proportions. And like TmjUtah said so well, once the bad thing opposed was replaced, there was desire to oppose the next "bad thing".

But the feminism-sexism issue is important and relevant because the feminists understood the importance of language, and the need to control language in order to influence the debate. Thus, a career woman (no longer an over-qualified, underpaid teacher) needed a "Ms." instead of being defined by marriage status.

This was good and needed, for equality. But then "pro-abortion" became, instead, "pro-choice" -- which is clearly a "lie". Very few pro-choicers want safe & legal: choice for pensions, choice for schools, choice for drugs (into their bodies), choice for prostitution (reproductive). Their only significant "choice" is to kill an unwanted fetus, which they get from enjoying sex with an equality of irresponsibilty to most college men.

But then, it's not really a lie, because most really don't support abortion, they're just against having laws restricting abortion (the extremists even oppose partial-birth abortion laws).

The pro- choice/abortion "lie" is one of the main points of the PC thought police control. [And I have to admit that I'm hoping, and expecting, that adoption will replace abortion as the PC choice for resolving the unwanted pregnancy; along with more respect for abstinence w/o love & commitment.]

It does look like PC feminist issues are separating from PC racism issues. (Not to mention PC environment; PC anti-globalization/capitalism.)

On racism, the lack of press coverage of Bill Cosby's non-PC remarks is telling. If the truth of US black poverty, today, is black parents not pushing their kids to do homework, somebody should be able to say that truth. Even if it's not true, somebody should be able to hypothosize it as an explanation, without being branded a racist, and thereby ending discussion. Or write a book like The Bell Curve, and try to explore truth without being branded, and dismissed, as racist.

Michael, perhaps like me you're getting upset at PC thought control in the dismissal, rather than refutation, of counter-arguments.

Posted by: Tom Grey at June 11, 2004 12:58 AM

Michael, thatnks for a great article.

I went to Berkeley as an undergrad in the mid-90s and later as a graduate student (2000-03). I was pretty apolitical undergrad but unfortunately my graduate life started together with this last "intifada". Well. Even before I started school, fellow grad student informed me that Israelis are genocidal. There was anti-Semitism in every department I came in contact with (anthropology, geography, history, even Slavic). Anneli Rufus interviewed prominent undergrads, as she should have done. Unfortunately, she left out everyone else.

Posted by: veebee at June 11, 2004 01:28 AM

I think there is more going on then political correctness. The liberal strain of anti-Semitism that began with the French Enlightenment, in particular with Voltaire, has met up with the old reactionary anti-Semitism which was imported into the Islamic world after its demise (more or less) in the West. The former has now re-legitimized the other; liberal anti-Semitism has formed a new synthesis with the reactionary anti-Semitism which liberalism once negated.

Posted by: benjamin at June 11, 2004 04:53 AM

Tano,

Under that definition, blacks cannot be racist simply because they cannot form a governing majority and implement a race-based oppressive regime.

What Orwellian rubbish. You can't get off the hook by redefining terms. Not only are too many blacks guilty of racism by the real definition, they are guilty of racism by your Newspeak definition which was soley conceived for the purpose of rationalizing any hatred some may feel and empowering those who have these feelings to get away with being racists. This attempt at re-definition is itself profoundly racist.

The Democrats can no longer form a governing coalition without black support. That is why racist filth like Al Sharpton whose incitement has led to multiple murders is invited to participate in the Democratic debates. That is why Sharpton can get up on stage and lecture all the Uncle Whiteys while they bite their tongues in order to preserve their own political viability. And that is why we have the government imposed political oppression and gross violation of equal protection euphamistically called "affirmative action." We've replaced a tyranny of the majority with a tyranny of the minority.

Sharpton shouldn't be sharing the stage with anybody. The fact the he is is testimony to the fact that blacks can be as racist as anybody else according to any twisted definition, and that black racists can and do exercise the kind of political power that the Klan can only dream about. No only do Sharpton and his ilk exercise real political power and impose real politcal oppression, they use threats of violence to silence media critics:

http://www.nationalreview.com/nr_comment/nr_comment090701.shtml

And I have yet to see any prominent Democrat condemn this man. Disgraceful.

And while where on the subject of euphamisms, PC itself is a euphamism for ignoring the racism and hate within the left's coalition. It is not political correctness. There is nothing "correct" about it. We should call it Political Necessity or PN. What we call PC is really the politicaly driven necessity of the left to find a fig leave to cover-up the various hate-driven movements within their coalition.

The left better start policing their own or it is going to tear this country apart. If the left continues to tolerate Jew haters, white haters, man haters, Christian haters and America haters in order to maintain their coalition, someday there will an ugly and violent backlash. If you can't see this backlash brewing already, then you are blind - perhaps willfully so.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0521808863/qid=1086956766/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-8635916-1071160?v=glance&s=books

Posted by: HA at June 11, 2004 05:31 AM

>>>"Islam is overtly hell-bent on destroying our country and civilization. Please, please please, everyone: come to your senses."

hear hear

Posted by: David at June 11, 2004 08:37 AM

I guess Mr. Totten is not gonna answer my question.

I'll try another one: Would you please define "far-left?" Thanx.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at June 11, 2004 08:47 AM

"Islam is overtly hell-bent on destroying our country and civilization. Please, please please, everyone: come to your senses"

I am beginning to get the sense that the "right" in this country, and maybe the "bush democrats" are just a bunch of scared chickens. Maybe that is the explanation for a lot of things.

"I will post only once" urges us to take this mastodon in the living room seriously. Quite frankly, I just roll my eyes. Maybe it is because I have heard this stuff countless times. I heard it from black activists in the sixties. I heard it from maoist revolutionaries. I heard it from white power advocates. I 've heard it from christian evangelicals. The mullah in question here actually sounded quite mild in comparison. Every ideological or religous movement spawns its nut cases, and they all promise apocalyptic redemption at some not-too-distant future data. And I just roll my eyes.

Maybe y'all just have a profound lack of confidence in America and the american people. Or maybe some of you are just natural militarists - who jump on opportunities like this to put yourselves and your inclinations at the fore - and try to convince us all that we are in some grave danger that only you, and your mentality can protect us from.

Sorry, but I just continue to roll my eyes. We do have real enemies, and I support taking a fight to them. But I resist the incessant urge to inflate the threat, to view ever increasing proportions of the world's population as mortal dangers, or to work ourselves into a frenzy over the rantings of yet another little nut job.

In short, people, get a grip.

Posted by: Tano at June 11, 2004 09:08 AM

"In short, people, get a grip."

---Neville Chamberlain

Posted by: David at June 11, 2004 10:36 AM

Tano -

You don't see a credible strategic threat to the lives of U.S. citizens at the hands of Islamofascist terror? You don't see a worldwide program of murder, terror, and infiltration on the part of Islamic fundamentalists? Wahabbist dollars flowing into madrassas worldwide, Iranian sponsorship of terrorist groups across continents, the murder of 3000 citizens on our own shores...and you urge us to get a grip?

Nuclear weapons in the hands of the wellspring of Hizbollah are acceptable to you?

I'm all for ignoring nut cases, Tano, but only when they are screaming at trees in a park or at passing busses from a street corner. When they rise to the level of running nations or international networks and engage in active murder, when they are indisputably engaged in a strategic agenda that is aimed at the destruction of not merely political opponents but western civilization itself, I want my government to act to remove that threat.

They may not be able to produce the pencil they used to write the draft of their declaration of war or their fatwahs, but they have and will continue use our own technology and freedom against us until we defeat them. DEFEAT them.

How appropriate you make your lame argument at the tail end of a thread on PC. You refuse the connection between the despotism of Iraq and terror because if that connection is acknowledged, there is no argument against the war as a blow to terrorism.

"Don't inflate the threat". That is EXACTLY the goal of the battle in Iraq, Tano. You know it, too, in some darker corner of your conscience. The reality of the effective response undertaken by this administration violates your politics...so you redefine the stage to give your opinion credibility.

The day we are hit hard enough to anger this majority-apolitical nation of free citizens, the war will shift from an effort to seek out and destroy terrorists and regimes and move to populations judged to produce them.

The more I learn about contemporary Islam and its organizations & leadership organizations, the less hope I have for avoiding the clash.

Get a grip, Tano. The gun is pointed at your head, too.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 11, 2004 10:56 AM

>>>"How appropriate you make your lame argument at the tail end of a thread on PC."

how very appropriate.

Posted by: David at June 11, 2004 11:06 AM

Ute,
As I said man, get a grip.

"The day we are hit hard enough to anger this majority-apolitical nation of free citizens, the war will shift from an effort to seek out and destroy terrorists and regimes and move to populations judged to produce them"

Yeah, well you seem to be there already. Or at least you tolerate and seem to make common cause with those who are. I am the one with the focus on the real enemy. You seem to be the one with the urge to frighten everyone into a frenzy.

You are very much an agent of this threat inflation. The original post was about a muslim on a streetcorner in Berkeley, ranting about the global jihad. And this inspired the poster to warn of the global muslim conspiracy. And, as I said, it does nothing but remind me of those who urged me to go to war against all black people, because someone heard a panther-dude spewing about killing all the whiteys. Or a war against all white conservatives because they were not only obviously filled with hatred for normal Americans, but actually were starting to do something about it (OK city). Yeah, well I was just an ol' Neville Chamberlin type,,,,

Actually I just felt the need to stay focussed on the real threat. Tbe Iraq misadventure grew directly out of the perverse inflation of the threat. Saddam may have been worthy of overthrow for his own reason. But he was a very distinct problem - not a part of the terrorist conspiracy. THe nature of terrorism is such that they rely on people like you - their goal is to make their enemies think that the threat is far greater than it is - that their terrorism is the authentic voice of a vast multitude - with the hope that they can provoke severe oppression onto that multitude thereby actually turning the multitude against us. And they the terrorists emerge as the champions of the oppressed. Basic tactics, back to Lenin, the anarchists, or any other weak group trying to take on a great power.

So yeah, get a grip, stay focussed, and dont go off halfcocked shooting at anyone who looks at you funny.

Posted by: Tano at June 11, 2004 11:32 AM

RoguePlanet: I'm just curious how it is that you're so sure the "far-left" is "behind" them and not, say, skinheads.
Read the article I linked to in my piece in the East Bay Express. Besides, the difference between a certain kind of radical leftist and a skinhead has shrunk. See my June 8 post.

Would you please define "far-left?"

No. You know what the far-left is. It's self-explanatory.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 11, 2004 11:37 AM

>>>"So yeah, get a grip, stay focussed, and dont go off halfcocked shooting at anyone who looks at you funny."

Not all muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are muslims.

But let's stay focused on searching grandma and 12 year old little girls so as not to give anybody the wrong idea that we've "lost our grip."

Posted by: David at June 11, 2004 02:46 PM

Tano -

"You are very much an agent of this threat inflation. The original post was about a muslim on a streetcorner in Berkeley, ranting about the global jihad."

You abuse my metaphor. Your 'a muslim' is not alone in his world, or an alcolyte of a band of social defectives like McVeigh. He's at best a supporter of an organized and active worldwide movement that enjoys state or state-level support across the mideast and some corners of Africa and Asia. At worst he's no different that Atta or Arafat or the mullahs; he's just not killed anyone yet. The ideas, and the objectives, are the same.

Kind of amazing he feels comfortable standing in a California Park telling his audience that jihad is his agenda, isn't it?

Maybe those folks don't quite understand their place in the final equation. Unless the day they attended they had their burqas at the cleaners...or maybe, just maybe, THEIR definition of 'jihad' is 'honorable struggle to preserve ethnic identity'. Anyone could support that, of course. The only problem is anyone else who can beat a brick at checkers has probably read up enough on 'jihad' to understand it translates into 'kill the infidel and bring back the caliphate'. Anyone else would notice that people sharing the agenda proposed by this speaker have been involved in the murder of U.S. citizens since the early nineteen seventies. Anyone else would notice that the victory conditions set by the enemy are the end of democracy, equality of the sexes, rule of law, free will, and any intellectual pursuit beyond memorizing the Koran.

"Saddam may have been worthy of overthrow for his own reason."

Saddam was unfinished business that we could not tolerate concurrent with attempting to track down al Qaeda in the region. The synchronicity of the failure of U.N. oversight, cowardice and graft on the part of france, Germany, Russia, and the UNSCUM kickback club, coupled with the geographic location of the country itself made it an obvious strategic move in the war. On the pinstripe suit level, Saddam was further off the reservation by 2002 than Hitler was when he moved into the Sudetenland and remilitarized the Rhine. On the human rights level, our actions have freed over twenty million people. Yes, Iraqi citizens have died. We had to kill cities to remove Hitler.

There's no 'containment' if the guards won't lock the cell.

"And they the terrorists emerge as the champions of the oppressed."

The at-rest state of the Arab population in the muslim mideast is oppressed. That condition has nothing to do with our chauvinistic practice of buying their one international commodity at market prices and everything to do with their deathgrip on a tribal existence and psyche that cannot compete with free markets and free people.

A subset of the people from that population have resolved that they will solve the problem by removing the competition. They are active and dangerous. At the state level, the countries of Iran and Syria directly support them. Saudi and Pakistan have both ridden the tiger with the understanding that their support would shield them from attack...a very, very bad call.

"THe nature of terrorism is such that they rely on people like you - their goal is to make their enemies think that the threat is far greater than it is - that their terrorism is the authentic voice of a vast multitude - with the hope that they can provoke severe oppression onto that multitude thereby actually turning the multitude against us."

Tano, the despots and imams have painted Jews, the west in general, America in particular, as the root cause of all the self-inflicted misery that passes for the daily lot of their people since the Balfour Declaration. Actually, the Jews were The Problem right off the first speech of Mohammed, probably.

What is a 'great threat'? I guess it could be reasonably debated as a matter of perspective. To some guy looking up from his quarterly report into the oncoming windshield of a 767, or a child riding a train feeling the 'click' that outruns the blast wave and shrapnel of a bomb exploding, I don't think the threat can be any greater.

9/11's destruction was limited to two cities and the property of some airlines. Its true effect was scattered internationally. The human cost was horrific; the economic costs are undefinable. It was calculated to tip us into recession or even depression and to decapitate our leadership. Hundreds of millions of dollars were made on hedge calls that likely ended up in terrorist bank accounts.

There's nothing written anywhere that suggests that the weapons and opportunity do not exist for them to make another attempt at different targets, on an even greater scale, tomorrow.

We have to kill the killers. We must give the people of those countries options in life other than daily fear of despots, poverty, and powerlessness in order to break the feed line of terror.

I don't think I sound like I'm ready to go gunning for muslims. Not even close. Imam Ali of Salt Lake is a gracious host, in spite of our differences. I'd like the conflict to be resolved at the political level before it comes down to that. I believe our current policy is the best effort we can make toward that end.

It's a stone tragedy that our political minority's decline has spurred them to sieze on sabotaging our efforts in hopes of realizing some sort of politcal gain. It's almost french in its perfidy.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 11, 2004 03:57 PM

Well Ute, it sure takes you a hell of a long time to work through your incredible blustering till you finally arrive at a reasonable statement.

"I'd like the conflict to be resolved at the political level before it comes down to that."

Oh joy. Who woulda thunk it? You and I can agree on something.
But then...

"I believe our current policy is the best effort we can make toward that end."

And here we disagree. Unlike you, I did not view Iraq as a logical theatre in any coherent strategy in the war against islamic terrorism. If it exists in such a role today, it is entirely of our making. At a huge cost in treasure, a considerable cost in blood, and a disasterous cost in terms of the respect we command in the international community. And it has tied down our armed forces, and drained our readiness for any other challanges that might arise.

And it was all done in pursuit of this inflated vision of a war on terrorism - thinking of the type that you manifest - which pitches the challange at the most lofty and globalized level, an existential struggle. Pretty amazing that nineteen men with boxcutters can so upset the rational equilibrium of so many. I certainly understand that the problem is bigger than 19 men. But it is a hell of a lot smaller than you make it out to be. And the proper approach is with a scalpel and a discriminating mind.

You seem overly impressed with the rhetoric of loudmouths. They are a constant in this world, and have very little impact. If someone like you had been a liberal in the nineties, and listened in to short-wave radio, you would have probably constructed a wholly different high-falutin global apocalyptic vision of the coming existential struggle. Me, as I said, I roll my eyes.
It is a time for resolve, and strength, and clarity. And most important, not losing your head.
Bush's way is not the only way. And I think it is far from the best way.

Posted by: Tano at June 11, 2004 06:09 PM

Tano,

What do you think of this sentence by TmjUtah: Saddam was unfinished business that we could not tolerate concurrent with attempting to track down al Qaeda in the region.

I think that's a great point that isn't made often enough. Containing Saddam had enormous costs (among those was the devastation wrought on Iraq by sanctions) and we lost political capital every single day it dragged on. Not to mention the fact that Iraq had the Uday and Qusay regime to look forward to, and we would have had to deal with that monstrosity as well. At some point the plug needed to be pulled on that show whether Al Qaeda even existed in the first place or not.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 11, 2004 10:27 PM

Michael,
I would be closer to the postion you lay out rather than tmjutah's. I did not see Saddam's persistence in power as some untolerable situation in light of the struggle against al-Q - to the contrary. Lets face it here. We supported Saddam originally because of his ability to bring stability to that country - even though it was done with great brutality. The worst thing in the struggle against al-Q would be to create instability in a place like Iraq, a place that is ever on the edge of being torn apart from within. Creating a failed state (in the sense of a chaotic state) was the last thing we needed. There was no real al-Q presence there, now there is. So from the totally cold-blooded 'real politic' perspective, moving against Saddam as part of the struggle against islamic terrorism made no sense to me.

Your points are far more compelling, but they speak not to the WoT equation, but to the humanitarian equation within Iraq. I agree that the sanctions regime was a horror, as those things often are. And to imagine a succession to his sons would be even more horrific. As I debated the war, in my own mind, these were the arguments that pushed me in the direction of support. They made me feel that perhaps some sort of confrontation with the 'Saddam problem' was necessary. I think that is the general sense that a lot of dems had - such as Kerry in his support of the resolution to give Bush the authority to use force if necessary. I was against that vote, for I dont think it proper to give a blank check to the exectutive to go to war at some future date if his diplomacy fails. But I was sympathetic with the underlying sense that we should find some way to resolve that situation.

I never felt a compelling reason to get on the Bush war bandwagon however. First off, Bush et.al. made it clear that WMD, and the WoT were the primary reason for the war, and I did not find those reasons compelling, as I alluded to above. So perhaps I could have ended up in a Tom Freidman-like position - supporting the war for my own reasons (internal Iraqi political and humanitarian reasons). But I had no trust whatsoever that the Bush "we dont do nation-building" Administration would have any interest or ability in doing a humanitarian intervention in an effective and decent manner.

And at every step I felt my assumptions were being validated. The whole emphasis from people on my side, of not just going to the UN, but sincerely making this an international effort, was based on the sense of the difference between an invasion led primarily by one country, and an intervention by a community. I can easily imagine how any Iraqi would see that difference. Irresepective about how you view your government, most people will defend their country from an outside invasion. But if the world gets together to remove your dictator, you can support that - for there is much less fear that your soverignity and dignity is being violated by a stronger power.

And of course the global community as well would respect, admire and support us if we were to go to them, demonstrate our respect for them, make clear that we sensed that they too were good and moral people, and to ask them to join us in jointly dealing with a terrible humanitarian situation. Especially if we made it clear that we were not obssesed with doing it militarily as a first recourse.

That would be exercising global moral leadership. I think most of the Euro leaders were opposed to us primarily because their people were opposed. One can rant about corruption and all that, but the bottom line is that Chirac, Schroeder etc. were looking at 80-90% opposition to the war in their own populations. And the same was true in many many countries. An american president can do a great deal to move global opinion - that is what being the 'leader of the free world' is all about. The one tricky thing that needs to be kept in mind, is that everyone knows that we are so powerful that we can do whatever we damn please. And so anyone with the slightest sense of the history of our species is going to be wary of us, at least. Instead of understanding that, and doing the necessary things to inspire trust amongst people who really really do want to be supportive of us, Bush went entirely the other way.

His message was - we dont need you, we dont necessarily trust you, its up to you to show us that you are with us, or we'll consider you against us - its up to you to show me that you are relevant. And anyway, who cares what you think, because we are going to do this anyway, and in our own way.

That is not intellegent leadership. It was clear that Bush had very little interest in really doing anything as the leader of a global community. And that made me conclude that his concern was not really toward the humanitarian issues at all. Then we saw what his plan really was, in how the war was fought, and after the statue fell. Go in there light, take out the dictator, turn it over to Chalabi, and get out.
That was simply a case of replacing an odious murderous strongman with an odious strongman. And there may well have been a lot of murdering necessary to make something like that stick, because Chalabi had no real base of support other than us. And if the entire infrastructure had not collapsed, that is what it would have ended up being.

The alternative way may well have ended up with a military intervention in the end. But that is not certain. And if it had come to that, we would have taken the time to build a real coalition, and most importantly, would have prepared a plan for what to do when we got there. Some people scoff at that - and point to how we rebuilt Germany and Japan on the fly - arguing that one never has a rebuilding plan in place beforehand. But those were wars that were imposed on us. This was an optional war. We could start it at any time, of our choosing.

We could have used the intervention (military or not) as a paradigm for how we, at the head of the coalition of the civilized world, would deal with ugly situations like this in the future. Because these type of situations are probably going to be encountered more often in the future. Bosnia, Kosovo, Sudan, etc. were of this kind as well. Either we let these horrors happen, or we come up with a general approach to follow. And the general approach should be to activate global institutions, have persisting coalitions in place, have clear principles and real world examples in place to make it clear to everyone that these are not imperial ventures. That is how you can mobilize support. Beleive me, the european, south american, asian people etc. are just like anyone else - they would love to feel that they are participating in righting the great evils in the world. They just dont trust that that is what we have in mind. And Bush has done almost everything possible to foster those suspicions, to make us feared rather than trusted - to create a general rhetorical atmosphere in which the America-bashers sound plausible to their fellow citizens.

Anyway, perhaps I am beginning to ramble.
To summarize: I think Bush has screwed this up at every step along the way. It should not have been made a central theatre in the WoT. That war should have been the primary focus. And dealing with the Saddam problem should have been done in an entirely different context; used as a paradigm for laying out our role as global political leaders - used as way of engaging the civilized world in buiding an enduring structure of humanitarian oversight, and occasional intervention to advance the rights of oppressed people everywhere. Not as just some phony, and unconvincing add-on to the war against islamic terrorism.

Posted by: Tano at June 12, 2004 07:06 AM

Our counterculture, for lack of a cause, has embraced the anticulture.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 12, 2004 09:21 AM

What a bizarre perspective.
Do you think that the policies of one party (the one that got fewer votes last time!)= "the culture". And the policies of the other = some anticulture?

Posted by: Tano at June 12, 2004 10:10 AM

Tano,

actually yes, but it would be more accurate to say that conservatives embrace culture, whilst Liberals embrace anti-culture. They are culture destroyers, tradition destroyers. They replace it with nothing but nihilism.

Posted by: David at June 12, 2004 10:32 AM

David: [Liberlas] are culture destroyers, tradition destroyers. They replace it with nothing but nihilism.

If you're talking about radical leftists, I agree, though that is only true of some of them. See Mao's Cultural Revolution for the epitome of that. But liberals? No. I really don't think this is right at all. The most culturally sophisticated parts of the country are liberal. My conservative hometown is a cultural wasteland. I know we're using the word "culture" in different ways here, but I don't think I'm off on a tangent either.

Tano: Lets face it here. We supported Saddam originally because of his ability to bring stability to that country - even though it was done with great brutality. The worst thing in the struggle against al-Q would be to create instability in a place like Iraq, a place that is ever on the edge of being torn apart from within.

I just want to give you a reality check. That paragraph reads like it was written by Henry Kissinger.

I can see from the rest of your post(s) that you are not his evil twin. My view of the world is closer to yours than it is to his, overall. I just thought I'd point this out because I never heard people on the left talk like that before the Iraq invasion. It's new. And I wonder if you really want to go there, so to speak.

Stability isn't all it's cracked up to be when it requires a brutal dictatorship to maintain it. Besides, Iraq under Saddam wasn't really stable anyway, hence the need to contain.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 12, 2004 11:03 AM

Michael,
I agree wholeheartedly with your comments on culture. I actually am guessing that David was not serious, just getting in one of those nasty little insults.
Just for the record, I think American culture is ALL ABOUT skepticism, free discussion of ideas, proposal of alternative policies etc. If anyone seriously thinks that these things lie outside our culture, then they be living on a different planet.

As for Kissenger.....hmmm, you really know how to hurt a guy...
But I didnt mean to justify the support of dictators. Just to point out that that was essentially the situation that we had. And if you want to go in and knock it over, you had better do it in a well-thought out, and sincere manner. Otherwise the underlying instability will only be suppressed in the future the same way it was in the past.

Posted by: Tano at June 12, 2004 11:23 AM

Tano: As for Kissenger.....hmmm, you really know how to hurt a guy...

Wasn't my intention. Just a reality check. When I find myself agreeing with Kissinger it makes me pause and think long and hard. He's not always wrong, but he very often is, and when he's wrong he's REALLY wrong.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 12, 2004 02:28 PM

>>>"My conservative hometown is a cultural wasteland. I know we're using the word "culture" in different ways here, but I don't think I'm off on a tangent either."

Yes, we are using 'culture' differently, but I won't argue your point. My primary beef is with the Left-- though Liberalism is its stepchild.

Posted by: David at June 13, 2004 11:27 AM

Tano -

I cannot bridge the gap that exists between your worldview and mine. You seem to think I appeal too much to emotion. Having friends killed focuses one's angst, I will agree, but my past losses are dwarfed by the true scope of the conflict that they fell victim to.

In the interest of brevity , I'll just refer you to Victor Davis Hanson. He gets it. I get it. I got it in a street-level, non-tenured, just-read-the-damned-history way long before VDH ever entered my reading list.

You don't.

There are conflicts that can be resolved by negotiation or mediation. Those avenues ONLY apply when there exists some common interest, some nexus of agendas, between parties. There are other conflicts that are only settled by the direct application of force. We aren't going to evolve liberal democracy in the mideast via helpful suggestion or the introduction of humanitarian monitors. Our common cause should be preserving western civilization...but the corrupt and declining powers we should find on our side in this fight see some advantage to be gained by pulling us back by a knife in our back vice addressing our common threat.

Here's VDH's latest on NRO. His slip into the crass halfway down his essay indicates to me he's feeling about as frustrated as I am. I shudder to think what my pessimism level would be had I his broader education.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 14, 2004 11:33 AM

Besides, the difference between a certain kind of radical leftist and a skinhead has shrunk.

---------

Skinheads are generally uneducated, xenophobic, nationalistic, belligerent, racist, hard-drinking and homophobic. They shave their heads and wear Dr. Martens, Fred Perrys and MA-1 flight jackets.

The radical lefty types are usually overeducated, internationalist, multiculturalist, anticorporate potheads. These favor dreadlocks, canvas sneakers and filthy hooded sweatshirts.

Purchase and read Josh Aiello & Matthew Shultz' excellent (and funny) book "A Field Guide to the Urban Hipster" and you won't make these sorts of errors in the future.

Posted by: Mr. Spock at June 14, 2004 07:47 PM

>>>"The radical lefty types are usually overeducated"

You're obviously not talking about the Hollywood Lefties, who were usually too special to graduate from college and many even from high school.

Posted by: David at June 14, 2004 08:03 PM
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